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Pokemon Go, More Harm Than Good?

Pokemon

You are either part of the Pokemon Go craze or you’re hearing about it every waking hour of your day. Once a childhood favourite, the Japanese franchise game Pokemon has been given an augmented reality revive!

The game, developed by the internal Google start-up software company Niantic, has met huge success. The mobile game allows players to capture, battle and train virtual Pokemon creatures on their smartphones. But it’s not just any old game, the app uses location-based augmented reality technology to project these creatures into real life locations (how cool!?).

The game was first previewed in this Super Ball commercial celebrating 20 years of Pokemon.

Since its release the mobile game has skyrocketed to the top of app download charts in the US, Australia and New Zealand, adding 7.5 billion to Nintendo’s market value. Pokémon Go is estimated to have made up to $4.9 million on its first day – a clear prediction of things to come.

But like any viral sensation, there’s always going to be the haters. Apart from the overwhelming response from fans, new and old, there has been a negative backlash directed at the game and its users from a portion of the public. You may have read the headlines, ‘Two US Men walk off cliff.., ‘Teens robbed at knifepoint…’, and so on, all while playing Pokemon Go.

There’s no doubt the game’s nature does expose players to external dangers, and the like any well-made game the addictive nature of it could be debilitating for some, but there are two sides to this dice and on the other side there are substantial positives!

Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons of Pokemon Go!

 

Pokemon

Outside-time

Pokemon Go is the first time that augmented reality technology has been put on show for the world! Traditional forms of gaming encourage long periods of ‘couch-time’, something that has worries medical professionals and parents alike. Pokemon Go has tipped the perception of the couch-potato gamer on its head!

Pro: The game requires players to walk distances to catch Pokemon, attend gyms and hatch their eggs.  The addictiveness of the game drives them to sub-consciously exercise which has many benefits including higher levels or mobility and vitamin D intake from the sun.

Con: Although not the fault of the app designers, there is always going to be a small minority that ruins it for the rest. One of the greatest dangers of the game is the pre-set destinations. Gamers who travel to poke-stops alone are at risk of being robbed or attacked by waiting predators, as anyone with the app can predict where nearby players will be heading.

Mental Health

Developers are slowly moving towards making gaming less isolating and Pokemon Go has taken a huge step in the right direction. Even in it’s early days we have witnessed a strong community of Pokemon fans, new and old, actively engaging with each other and enjoying the game. For example, take this scene of hundreds of players flocking to Central Park in New York to try catch a rare Vaporeon. Gaming is more interconnected today than it ever has been!

Pro: The app takes the inter-connectedness of gaming a step further encouraging players to go outside and meet/battle other gamers face-to-face. The game supports a positive social atmosphere and increased mobility leads the brain to release endorphins which could help isolated people overcome mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.

Con: The key ingredient of any successful game is the level of addictiveness (running to central park in the middle of the night to catch a Pokemon is a fair example of this). A gaming addiction can have debilitating effects on the individuals mental/physical health and also their relationships with friends and family.

Screentime

One of the biggest worries for medical professionals is the modern era is the danger of prolonged screen time. Ok so your eyes aren’t going to turn square, but there is clear evidence that excessive screen time can affect our eyesight and concentration levels.

Pro: The game has set time periods where players have to wait for poke-stops, new poke-balls and to free-up egg incubators. This ensures that to an extent they don’t feel obliged to be constantly on the app and discourages long periods of unbroken screen-time.

Con:  These waiting periods can be avoided using in-app purchases. Despite a written warning when opening the app, players are encouraged to look at their phone screen while walking, or even driving, rather than concentrating on spatial and traffic hazards.

Money

It would be too good to be true if the game was entirely free of cost! Despite being able to download and play the game for free there is the temptation of in-app purchases.

Pro: The download of the app and gameplay is completely free of cost. Players are not forced into in-app purchases in order to continue playing.

Con: There are many options for in-app purchases up to the value of $159.95 for 14.500 ‘poke-coins’ which players use to buy extra poke-balls and bypass waiting periods in gameplay. If a player is addicted to the game these purchases could easily lead to financial trouble down the track.

A-league

I’m not going to tell you whether Pokemon Go is good or bad, I think the answer is entirely dependent on the individual player. What I can say however is that it opens many doors for future augmented reality game developers and I predict we will see an influx of similar location-based apps. Like my Mother always says, everything in moderation!

Let us know what you think in the comments, are you an avid player or sick of the hype? Have fun, stay safe and go out there and catch em’ all!!

 

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