Earlier this month the phenomenon known as Pokemon Go was released upon US phone users. The Virtual Reality app allows users to catch Pokemon via an app on their phone while they walk around in the real world. The app is wildly popular not only with children who have collected cards and watched the show their whole lives, but with adults who played the original Pokemon games on Gameboy. The game has become a national obsession since it's release. People are out in the streets, staring at their phones, and catching "real, live Pokemon". It's something I certainly never thought I'd see.
The good, the bad, and the ugly
The game has earned lots of media coverage, for good and bad reasons. On the good side of things, people are praising the game's ability to bring people together. I have witnessed new friends being made while small groups of people chase the same Pokemon. The game has also received praise for its ability to get people active. The #Video Game crowd is notorious for being woefully inactive, but Pokemon Go has gotten people outside and moving, which could prove to be great for their health.
On the bad side, the app seems to have caused a lot of trouble due to its users ignoring the real world while on their mission to snag the closest Pokemon. Multiple car crashes have occurred all over the country as people tried to catch Pokemon while driving. Users have caused pileups on the highways, crashed in to trees, and pedestrians have been hit crossing the road without checking for cars. One player walked in to the wrong neighborhood at one in the morning and was stabbed. Criminals in that neighborhood had even been luring Pokemon Go players to certain locations to rob them.
Irresponsible location choices
Pokemon Go has also been criticized for its location choices. Users are able to catch Pokemon at national historical sites like Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum. The app targets historical locations and landmarks as hot spots for Pokemon activity, which resulted in one man's home being designated a gym, a place in the game where users can meet to battle, trade Pokemon, and catch special Pokemon. Boon Sheridan's house was a converted church, and since many churches are designated historical sites, the app designated his house as such. Boon reports that people began to flock to his house at all hours and linger in his yard to play. Both Arlington National Cemetery have released official statements asking users not to play the games at their locations stressing that it is incredibly disrespectful.
Hold the app creators responsible
I'm usually not one to shout that media creators should be help responsible for the idiotic actions of media consumers. I don't believe violent video games are to blame for teenage violence. I don't think that Marilyn Manson has provoked any school shootings. I do believe that Pokemon Go is a different case than these.
I certainly don't think the app creators should be held responsible for people playing while driving. They should be smart enough to not use their phones while driving. I don't believe app creators should be made accountable for users who wander in to dangerous situations while playing the game or the fact that people are using the game to facilitate crimes. Those are all the media consumers decisions, for which the app owners are not responsible.
They are, however, responsible for the locations they chose to make accessible within the game. When the app creators programmed the game, using Google Earth as a resource, they knew where they were putting Pokemon. They knew they were choosing landmarks and historical locations as hot spots. To be clear: they knew that they were putting Pokemon in the Holocaust Museum and the Arlington National Cemetery. They knew they were making people's houses hot spots. For this, they should be held responsible. The game makers should remove these locations from the game and apologize for their morally irresponsible choice. #News #Pokémon GO