Many people’s’ childhood show have officially come to life. Through the use of augmented reality and geo-tagging, many people are sent running around trying to “catch em all”. Even though it was launched less than a month ago on the 6th of July, and in only a few territories, Pokémon Go is already making waves all around the world.
Based on the popular franchise, Pokémon Go is a virtual simulation of Pokémon – in real life. As its name suggests, Pokémon Go is a game that requires people (or trainers in this case) to go around catching Pokémon and training them. Pokémon Go uses Google Maps data to put digital creatures into the player’s surroundings. As the individual walks, the GPS in his smartphone would track his position in the world, and it reflects on his smartphone whenever he gets close to one of these virtual critters. Once you’ve travelled to the area a Pokémon is hiding out, you simply tap on the creature on the map and the camera on your phone renders it into the environment. Once he captures it and trains it, he could use it to battle in Gyms, just like in the anime.
When you combine the number of downloads of this free-to-play app on iOS and Android, the total number downloads increases by more than fifty in just one mere second alone. To date, the estimated number of times Pokémon Go has been downloaded is about 30 million, with approximately 26 million users going online per day. This whooping number is set to increase once the game is released to other territories; however, the international release of the mobile game has been delayed due to the incredible number of downloads in the United States, America and New Zealand which caused it to crash.
In spite of numerous controversies and several technical glitches, the game is making an estimated $1.6 million a day from iPhone users in the US alone, and searches on Google for Pokémon Go have also outstripped those for “porn”. As further testimony to its popularity, many celebrities, such as the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Demi Lovato and Ellen DeGeneres, have also fallen in love with this hit game. Just recently, Justin Bieber even chased a Pokémon down the streets of New York City, and nobody could recognize him – reason being that everyone was hooked on catching the rare Pokémon in NYC’s Central Park.
While the game makes for great entertainment, there are many real dangers in this fake Pokémon world as well. Such include trespassing, stopping in the middle of a highway, cars crashing into trees, and many more, all because players are hell bent on catching that one Pokémon. Police departments in the United States are regularly posting reminders about the dangers of Pokémon Go. “Don’t catch and drive” messages have been popping up on many public safety Twitter and Facebook feeds, and highways have even begun to put up emergency notices that read, “Don’t Pokémon and Drive.”
Personally, I feel that, while it’s alright to have fun, it becomes a concern once the game endangers players’ lives. Playing in moderation is fine, but it seems that people in the European countries have gotten addicted to Pokémon Go and are going overboard. If the game were to be released in Singapore, much less in Asian countries, hopefully the people here would not take this trend too far and know their limits.