‘Pokemon Go’ Backlash?
There are two types of people in the world: those who play Pokemon Go, and those who do not.
After the initial storm surge of hype, things have largely settled down. People are still playing the game what feels like everywhere (seriously, just try walking around Ala Moana Center on weekends), but the initial blaze of “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was” no longer burns with quite the same fire. (This I largely chalk up to the game’s flawed, buggy release than to any increased disinterest in Pokemon as a whole.)
Then, of course, there are the endless headlines about people getting hit by cars while playing Pokemon Go, as well as mugged, shot, hacked, arrested and, of course, struck by lightning. (Not even slightly kidding.)
You can feel it, though, in every negative news story: backlash.
People lament that we’ve got our faces in our phones instead of the beautiful wide world around us. They lament we care more about catching a Pikachu than we do the many, many problems that befall the world — like child refugees from Syria photoshopped with or holding pictures of Pokemon, asking that we pay attention to “catching” them, too.
The question, however, is why?
After all, you don’t see people getting up in arms about The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones or even the Marvel/DC machine when it dominates the cultural conversation. No, it’s these little, 20-year-old pocket monsters from Japan that are getting all the ire.
I think this is because of the way we stigmatize games.
Fundamentally, games are meant to be outgrown. It’s all right to lug around a Game Boy and Pokemon Red when you’re 10 years old. It’s OK to immerse yourself in this fantasy world and dream about living it in real life when you’re a kid.
By nature, games require more of you than any other medium.
But at age 30, you’re supposed to be long past that.
Think about it. A 20-year-old playing Call of Duty wouldn’t make anyone bat an eyelid. But a 40-year old man? Well, something must be wrong with him.
So to many — particularly those who never had that deeply emotional connection to gaming — seeing people excited about a game is just bewildering and annoying. It’s just a game! It’s not important. Focus on what really matte rs in the real world.
Personally, I don’t enjoy playing Pokemon Go. But that’s really because I have been playing Pokemon all these years — I’ve seen all 721 of the darned things through six (soon seven) generations of games. I can safely say that in 20 years I never did let go of that fantasy world.
But I can still appreciate what Pokemon Go revives in its fans: the possibility of adventure in daily life. It’s a reminder that some childhood dreams should not be so easily cast aside.