You know, I was going to wait a week for the next part of the article, but this movement, this phenomenon, whatever it is just moves way too damn fast. Aaaaand not necessarily in a good direction either.
There are some great things happening with the Pokémon Go craze, don’t get me wrong. But it seems more bad than good has been hitting the headlines lately. With the app being as focused on GPS data as it is, it opens up users who are not fully aware of their surroundings at all times to serious danger, including robberies (which I mentioned in Part 1 of this article). However the app is becoming the subject of a series of dangerous and usual incidents: A traffic accident near Texas A&M University was reported to be caused by an illegally parked driver attempting to snag a Pokémon; a pair of Poke-hunters in California, fell off of a cliff in search of some elusive creatures, thankfully suffering only moderate injuries; and a New York man totaled his car while being distracted by the app. Meanwhile another New York man was outed as a cheater by his Pokémon app when his girlfriend discovered he had caught Pokémon at his ex-girlfriend’s house recently, and a Wyoming woman’s hunt for water-type Pokémon abruptly concluded after she stumbled upon the body of a drowning victim in a river near her home.
At what point does the app go from fun pastime and social activity to a potential danger and hazard to others? Putting aside the GPS-driven incidents like the aforementioned robberies and accidents, the app does track location and that data, even with the company’s recent update to the app that supposedly puts a tighter leash on the specific data it uses, is still accessible to Google and possibly many others. While I won’t link to any specific articles I’ve read because I don’t necessarily endorse the views of those articles, a few bloggers and commentators have remarked that Pokémon Go could or possibly already does serve as some sort of governmental tracker for people. Does this fall under the conspiracy theory category? Yes, but seeing how easily it is to track someone nowadays and with how connected people are to the internet and their devices, it very easily begs the question: What would happen if this data got or is already in the wrong hands?
(Author’s Note: I won’t go into any of my personal beliefs or thoughts on this, but I do want to lend thought and discussion to both sides of this craze, the good and bad. Something as quickly spreading and impactful as this begs as thorough a study from all angles as it can be given.)
But on to the good stuff: An animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana, has begun allowing Pokémon trainers to walk the shelter’s dogs while they hunt for the app’s critters, potentially pairing the sheltered pups with forever homes. And big business has quickly hopped aboard the Pokémon Go train, with McDonald’s rumored to be pioneering the first of the app’s sponsored stops. And now, game developer Niantic has opened up requests for new PokeStops and Gyms via their website, meaning small businesses looking to capitalize off of the app’s large crowd can potentially serve as a pitstop for local Pokémon hunters, and maybe make a few more sales while they’re there. And the game continues to soar, with the app reportedly surpassing the seemingly insurmountable popularity of searches for porn on the internet. While a lot of people have been benefiting from the app in several ways, including mentally (social media is bubbling with numerous experiences from people whose depression, anxiety and moods the game has helped), those experiencing the massive influx of people the game is attracting have not benefitted as much, like one man whose renovated church home was labeled as a PokeStop. With Niantic opening up to the public for requests and support tickets for players and non-players, though, hopefully this guy quickly jumps on the list for PokeStop removals, like many graveyards and police stations whose operations have been interfered with a number of times.
I wasn’t initially here to just drop a vast amount of headlines for you, though. I’m still in the game, and now far more advanced than I initially was, thanks to Bumblure (of Rogues and Roleplayers, if you didn’t know but should), with whom I took my first gym! This was, of course, following a two-hour circling of the college campus we both frequent, and sweating our behinds off in the process (Texas heat and humidity is lovely). He has helped me with several tips in regards to evolving and gaining different assets, something I wasn’t do well with just sitting at home waiting for the Pokémon to come to me.
Mind you, the app’s current bug of showing a three-paw distance for all Pokémon in the area, regardless of location, has made hunting much more of a challenge, but it’s nonetheless an adventure. And the adventure should be getting even more fun shortly, with some evolving plans with friends to hit the city’s biggest stops for our own PokeHunt!
Maybe then I can catch ‘em all. Just maybe.