You can never satisfy everyone. That’s the narrative of the new mobile-gaming app, Pokemon Go. Many people downloaded the app, and are going to great lengths to “catch em all” in the game that appeals to many of the users’ nostalgia. But there are others who have denounced the game, for various reasons, ranging from privacy concerns, to a matter of safety.
Pokemon Go offers those who found themselves watching the hit 90’s cartoon, wishing they could actually capture Pokemon, the closest alternative. Using augmented reality, people can now fulfill their dreams of being a Pokemon trainer. The app encourages users to go outside, explore places they have never been, and get some fresh air as well as a little exercise.
Like many other apps, Pokemon Go requires access to the user’s location, and needs to be associated with a valid email account. In addition, there are in-app purchases (for items such as pokeballs, and incense which attracts wild Pokemon) that requires access to the user’s credit/debit card information. Why people are so surprised that the app is requesting access to their email account is a mystery to me. There are few apps that don’t ask for this. Perhaps it is what the app could do with the access that frightens consumers, but there have not been any confirmed reports of misuse of personal data yet. For the users who have concerns over the privacy of their card information, just don’t buy any pokeballs. Players can get free pokeballs from pokestops that are found all over.
Another view on the most popular mobile-gaming app in history, is that it is a threat to Black Americans. In a piece for Medium, Omari Akil wrote that of the 20-minutes he spent playing the game, “One of those minutes I spent trying to look as pleasant and nonthreatening as possible as I walked past a somewhat visibly disturbed white woman on her way to the bus stop.” Akil is trying to say that black people playing the game can be subject to injustices by law enforcement based off how uncomfortable they might make surrounding white people. His concern is understood, but it cannot be applied to every instance where a black person is playing the game. Black people that live in predominantly black neighborhoods, and play the game around that area, are clearly less likely to experience this. And if recent news about interactions between black people and white people and/or law enforcement indicates anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what they are doing. If a black man can be shot while lying down with his hands raised in the air, does playing a game really make a difference?
The only fair argument is that the game isn’t skill based. In an opinion piece titled ‘Why you should delete Pokemon Go right now,’ Juan Buis highlights that the only people who will prosper in the game are those with either a large amount of time, a large amount of money, or both. There are no real prizes, other than catching Pokemon and leveling them up. Buis gives a pretty convincing argument, up until the end where he gives alternatives: “you could be learning a new language, or training other skills.” Is this what the people who are playing Pokemon Go now, doing before? One gets the feeling they weren’t. Instead, they might have been wasting away playing another mobile-game, or doing something else unproductive with their life. And if they were doing something worth-while, who’s to say that they aren’t balancing that with a game? Once again, the concern is understood, but when applied to real-life, it’s not so clear-cut.
The only other negative views of the game come from people who, 1, have no clue what Pokemon is, or 2, have chosen not to play the game just so they can say that they didn’t follow the trend, which is actually a trend itself. What everyone needs to do, is let people be. Where was this opposition when people’s eyes were glued to their phone while playing Candy Crush and Temple Run? It’s easy to understand why some won’t play the game, there’s two sides on every coin. But to try and stop others from having fun isn’t cool. It makes people look bitter, and they ought to Pokemon Go somewhere with their bad vibes.
Curtis A. Ashley, Contributing Writer