Pokémon, the media franchise responsible for anime movies, TV shows and games by the same name, is back, and this time — sort of like if you had a kid (or were a kid) in the 90s — it is pretty much unavoidable, but in new and unique ways.
Pokémon Go is the most popular of a new-ish type of augmented reality game. You download the application on your phone, then it uses your camera and GPS to place Pokémon creatures around you (they appear on your phone screen); the object is to go and catch them.
For more detail, watch the video.
The game is rivaling Twitter in terms of active users, and it has caused some real-life situations and concerns, some of which are impacting our area.
“Walk around any neighborhood in America, and it’s clear that Pokémon Go is enormously popular and having a massive social impact,” reports Forbes.
There are up and downsides to this, as we’ve seen in the weeks since the game blew up. While it does get gamers out and about, even reportedly making social a group of people who might otherwise isolate, it also can put users and those around them in danger.
Nationwide there have been accounts of people hunting Pokémon at office desks, in hospital rooms, and even bathrooms. One player reportedly found a dead body. Players have entered memorial sites, cemeteries and even a holocaust museum, where they have found themselves unwelcome.
People in our neighborhood report some experiences with the game and what they are seeing in the North Dallas and Preston Hollow areas.
“We saw a group of more than 10 people enter into our favorite convenience store, and guessing from the very mixed, young demographic, this game is my bet,” says Shane Douglas, a North Dallas area resident who downloaded the game to see what the hype was all about.
“There have been kids down the wood forest cul-de-sac looking for ‘objects,'” adds his wife Rebecca Douglas. “… some of the objects are located inside the apartment complexes, at the convenience store, etc. Just a note in case you see people staring at their phones in or around your property.”
Might sound harmless at first blush, but Shane says his “mind races” with potential problems.
“I’m not even a criminal, but my mind races at the possibility. Instead of Pokemon, I’m just going to collect all the 13-year-old’s cell phones. Gotta catch them all, indeed,” he teases.
Already, police in Missouri say suspected robbers lured victims with Pokémon promises.
This is an all-too-real concern in Dallas neighborhoods, where last summer cell phone thefts were almost as popular as Pokemon.
Lake Highlands Area Improvement Association president Murray Morgan says he saw a first-hand account of the game’s social implications while hanging out in our neighborhood with his grandson.
“At NorthPark with my grandson that’s hooked on the game, it was amazing how many people of all ages were playing it in the mall, In fact, two salespeople gave him pointers on the game.”
The game, if played with caution, can take you out into the world you don’t experience when sitting behind a keyboard or in front of a TV.
For many, augmented reality done right has been a dream since the early 2000s, and the success of Pokemon Go is a sign that the fantasy is becoming a actuality.
Another game popular around the Dallas area that was a precursor and which brings some of the same concepts to life is Geocaching, on which we reported years ago. Even some major news sites are taking note: “Before Pokemon Go, There Was Geocaching,” according to Bloomberg. Yep, we knew that.