Pokémon Go – Top 3 Pros and Cons
Pokémon Go had more than 21 million daily active users in the United States in its debut week in July 2016, becoming the most popular US mobile game ever. It has surpassed social media apps such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter for daily use on Android devices. The basic premise of the game is that players try to capture Pokémon in a kind of scavenger hunt that uses the GPS on their mobile phones while walking around in the real world. The game’s slogan is “Gotta catch ’em all.”
As of July 8, 2020, Pokémon Go was still the most popular location-based game with 576.7 million unique downloads globally in the game’s first four years. The game is estimated to have earned $3.6 billion worldwide since 2016, with $445.3 million in the first half of 2020 during COVID-19 (coronavirus) lockdowns, via micro-transactions within the game.
Is Pokémon Go Good for Society?
There are mental and physical health benefits from playing the game.
Walking around is necessary to play the game, and users are getting physical health benefits from the exercise.63-year-old Robin Tarry told the BBC that the game has encouraged he and his wife, Pauline, to walk about 30 miles a week, helping him lose about 42 pounds and manage his diabetes.
One user told BuzzFeed, “I have struggled with motivation and energy since I was 9, when I developed severe depression… But as soon as I got Pokémon Go I was able to leave the house, and I walked outside for hours and suddenly found myself enjoying it. I had the instant rush of dopamine whenever I caught a Pokémon, and I wanted to keep going. Then today and yesterday I purposely put myself in social situations, going to the mall, just to play.”Read More
The game is bringing people together and creating a sense of community.
By exploring their communities and sharing information about where to find creatures, players are interacting with strangers.
One player wrote on Twitter about a late night experience during which he befriended two other players of a different race and age group. While they were talking, they were approached by a police officer. After they explained the game to him, the officer also started playing.“[O]verall, this is a positive moment, a moment of real community and good feelings all thanks to a mobile game and some adorable Pokémon,” wrote Erik Kain, Forbes contributor. 
During the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic lockdowns, Niantic (the parent company of Pokémon Go) enhanced the game’s virtual social features so players could more easily connect in-game when they couldn’t as easily explore their physical communities.An additional bonus to these adjustments is that they allow for easier play for people with disabilities, expanding the community. Read More
The game is a boon to local businesses.
As people explore their towns while playing the app, they are discovering new shops, restaurants, and more. This increase in foot traffic is a boost to businesses.
“With Pokémon Go, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to create strong emotional bonds with new customers, and for very little money,” wrote business expert Walter Chen.Some stores around the country have reported an increase in sales between 5 and 30 percent.
When local businesses began to close during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Niantic launched the Local Business Recovery Initiative on June 15, 2020. Players nominated their favorite local small businesses to have a storefront integrated into the Pokémon Go app for a year for free.Read More
Playing the game can lead to injury.
According to news reports, users have tripped, fallen into a lake, crashed a car, fallen on railroad tracks resulting in an amputated leg, and sustained other injuries while playing.
The National Safety Council released a statement urging people to be more cautious while using Pokémon Go, saying in part, “Reports of close calls associated with playing Pokémon Go already are rolling in. The Council urges gamers to consider safety over their scores before a life is lost. No race to ‘capture’ a cartoon monster is worth a life.”
Head and neck injuries due to distracted drivers spiked after the launch of Pokémon Go.Distracted users are also inflicting injury on others. A driver playing Pokemon Go struck and killed an 85-year-old woman in Japan. Read More
People are playing the game in inappropriate places.
In their quest to capture creatures, players are failing to respect their surroundings, spawning countless articles, such as Evan Dashevsky’s compilation, “18 Completely Inappropriate Places to Play Pokemon Go,” for PCMag. The list includes evidence that players have captured Pokémon in the emergency room, birthing rooms, Auschwitz, funerals, and on an active battlefield near Mosul, among others.
Arlington National Cemetery released a statement saying, “Out of respect for all those interred at Arlington National Cemetery, we require the highest level of decorum from our guests and visitors. Playing games such as Pokémon Go on these hallowed grounds would not be deemed appropriate.”
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has also asked visitors to stop catching Pokémon on site.
The 9/11 Memorial in New York City is also inundated with players. “A lot of people died here. It’s a place to reflect, not to play a game,” a visitor told TIME magazine.Read More
Criminals are targeting distracted users, leaving players susceptible to crime.
Four teens in Missouri were arrested on suspicion of committing at least 10 armed robberies by using the app to lure users to a specific location.
A police department in Philadelphia warned on Twitter, “Be mindful on what you play online, A String of armed robberies perpetrated by suspects who targeted their victims using Pokémon Go.”
Players have also been victimized when they accidentally stumble upon and witness crimes in progress.Distracted players have been victims of stabbings, gunshot wounds, beatings, and murders. Read More
1. Is Pokémon Go good for society? Explain your answer with pros and cons.
2. Can video games improve physical and mental health? Why or why not?
3. What rules should people follow when playing location-based games such as Pokémon Go? Explain how your rules might help the player.
1. Examine the brain benefits of Pokémon GO for people on the autism spectrum at the University of Utah.
2. Consider the public health implications of Pokémon GO at the American Journal of Public Health.
3. Analyze the dangers of Pokémon GO at the American Safety Council.
4. Consider how you felt about the issue before reading this article. After reading the pros and cons on this topic, has your thinking changed? If so, how? List two to three ways. If your thoughts have not changed, list two to three ways your better understanding of the “other side of the issue” now helps you better argue your position.