Pokémon Go

Essays > Science, IT, Nature Smart with a Phone

Beware, zombies rising! – a short essay by Bhagawati

And here’s the latest mad craze that has infested the planet. In case you don’t know what it is (where have you been hiding?), Pokémons are multicoloured virtual pocket monsters invented by Nintendo in Japan. It is a new augmented-reality app that people use to hunt down and ‘collect’ odd looking creatures by navigating in real space with the help of a mobile device. I didn’t make that up, it’s an explanation that has been peddled on the internet, you see. What I don’t see or understand is why any even barely conscious adult would want to do that.


The smartphone application invites users to gather imaginary Pokémons that are projected onto images of real locations. The game uses your camera, location, and augmented-reality to place Pokémon all around you. Hence we see people walking about with a barmy glitter in their eyes, glued to the screen of their mobile, to find an unreal cartoon character projected on to a real life location and to catch it.

Apparently millions of free downloads have been registered within a few days after its release.

If you are still mystified after reading the above, Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post explains, “The point of the game is to walk around the real world to find the cute little critters. This not only encourages you to explore your own city, but also – gasp! – gets you outside and around other people. In fact, this is not really a game you can play while stationary. Sometimes Pokémon will come to you, but more often than not you have to go to them.

“As you walk around and catch more Pokémon, your character will level up. Leveling up lets you take on stronger Pokémon, and also gives you items that can help you throughout the game.”

I am incapable to comprehend the fascination of being rewarded with ‘stardust’ or ‘candy’ when one detains one of those characters. Sometimes several people use an item that helps draw Pokemon to a particular place, only to find that it also draws many other players from the area to the same spot – crowd-Pokemoning so to speak.

One such event was filmed at New York’s Central Park:

Watch on YouTube

There is maybe one positive aspect, namely that people are actually walking again and getting some exercise. But at what prize? People are called upon not to play while driving… surely this has already been attempted. Already people have been injured putting themselves into an ER, one person drowned in a river in Wyoming while trying to capture a ‘water Pokémon’; there have been already some armed robberies using the app’s Pokémon lure features.

For what it’s worth, the game has already topped Twitter in active users and Facebook in daily time spent.

However, there’s a rather sinister aspect to all this that everybody ought to be aware of: the free application has raised the market value of Pokémon’s parent company Nintendo by 7.5 billion dollars. How does this work, you may ask. While playing the zombie game, data is simultaneously collected and sent to Nintendo’s servers. And then what, you may ask. Do read the small print in the Terms and Conditions: data provided by your mobile while you are online can be used for any government or law-enforcement agency Pokémon wishes.

I rest my case.

BhagawatiBhagawati is a regular contributor

More articles by the same author on Osho News

For further reading on Washington Post: The non-gamer’s guide to playing Pokemon Go

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