Pokemon Go: Fact, fiction, myths, and observations

An example of container for geocaching game, C...
An example of a container for geocaching game, Czech Republic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Instead of reading news articles about Pokemon Go, I decided to download it myself.

Here’s what I have to say about it.
 

1. First of all, it’s only a game if you decide to play it. I think that a large percentage of people don’t do much with the game aspect. It is more like augmented reality geocaching (treasure hunting via GPS).

 
2. The game aspect is virtually an afterthought. It is so simple that a 4-year-old (maybe younger) can handle the mechanics and the concept. You flick your finger across the screen. Sometimes there’s a small strategy to it, but mostly it’s just a spin of a coin to see what treasures pop-up.
 
3. This is where people usually ask me, why? If there’s no complexity and little strategy, why is it so popular. The reason is simple, it gives people a reason to get outside and discover stuff. True, you can go outside and discover stuff anytime you want. The difference here is that there is a thrill in the hunt. It’s exactly the same as a taking a Saturday to go shopping for a nice pair of shoes or a nice dress or a bull elk.
 
4. As a long-time citizen of the Internet and cyberculture, I have learned that there will always be trolls. People who are determined to ruin anything fun or uplifting or beneficial. Here we have a game that essentially is an anti-game. It forces people to go outside, it doesn’t really have an addictive element other than you can “catch them all”, and it is most fun when you get a group of people working together socially (again, out of the house).
Anyone who has tried to lose weight, get out of debt, or start a new business knows that as soon as you share your plans, there are trolls who try to discourage you.
 
Murder of Adam Walsh
Murder of Adam Walsh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. Substantiated myths can reach mythical proportions. Yes, someone found a body while playing Pokemon Go. Also, some people were using the locations to stock victims to mug. Also, there was a kid once named Adam Walsh who was kidnapped from a Sears once and the entire country stopped letting their kids peruse the in the toy aisle by themselves for almost 20 years. There was also once a kid who got hit by a car while riding his bike. And this one time a kid went to school and got bullied by a teacher ever day.

My point is, don’t be a troll. If you hate the game because you don’t like that other people are having a good time, you can read books and work in the garden, and do crafts in your house and the Pokemon Go people will not hurt you. I promise. You can take joy and rant on Facebook when you read that one of them got hit by a car. Or you can scoff when you hear that someone vandalized a monument while playing the game.
 
6. There is safety in numbers. There are photos all over the web of crowds of people in Central Park, wandering through public spaces, and driving around town to get to the next cache. Is it really more or less likely that people will be committing serious crimes under these conditions?
 
7. Virtually nothing about the game is random. The locations are curated and there are ways to report problems to the game developers immediately. You won’t find caches on the runway at the airport or inside the home of a pedophile. Ordinary people can’t make their own hotspots. The game developers only selected areas that were legally accessible to the public. So, don’t believe andy rumors you may hear about someone placing a cache of Pokemon fodder in the basement of their home to catch 6-year-olds. That can’t happen.
Technically, a bad guy could stock a given cache at weird times for unsuspecting victims, but that takes us back to the previous point. The same bad guy could stock a certain secluded sidewalk for kids as they walk home from school or joggers at 5am. There is nothing inherently dangerous about Pokemon Go that makes it easier for bad guys to do whatever their evil minds can dream up.
 
8. This is a fad. By this time next year, only a small percentage of people will still be playing the game. However, the game has subtly taught people and app developers that there is a new frontier in augmented reality. Expect shopping apps, travel apps, and more games to begin using these features.
Imagine driving up to a landmark and pointing your phone at it to read more information about that spot. Imaging panning your camera from an area where you can look down at your town and see the city transformed back to certain decades so that you can learn about the progress and history of the city.
Education, commerce, travel, and recreation are about to change for the better. It will mean that we are more plugged-in than ever. But, do we really want to go back to the time where we had to figure everything out from scratch?
 
9. Security glitches will happen. Something will happen with security and something will be exploited. It’s essentially a guarantee. However, ALL of your information is on the Internet. Every time you use your credit card, that information flies through the Internet. Anytime you use your Google Maps or other mobile mapping services, your location is recorded. Every time you go to the hospital, everything you are there for is recorded in a digital database, usually stored in the cloud or on servers that use the Internet to transfer and backup.
If this scares you then you should also know that every single city in the united states is planning on releasing a book that will be placed on every citizen’s front door. Inside that book will be every citizen’s phone number, address, and even their first and last name. Businesses aren’t even safe from this.
A company called Xerox has invented a device that allows you to make hard copy prints of both sides of any credit card. All bad guys have to do is find a way to get you to hand them your credit card for less than 2 minutes. They are going to allow these machines in the billing offices at restaurants and retail stores!
 
My point is, people need to stop worrying so much. If you want to be afraid of something, be afraid of bears, they can kill you. Or be afraid of saturated fats, sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle. Don’t be afraid of millennials walking around a public park or community sidewalk flicking their cellphone screens.

BONUS: If you want to know how they made the maps, how they chose the cache locations, etc. Mashable has a pretty good article explaining all that.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States
This work by adamc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States.