Pokémon GO helps people to connect to others
By: Missy Arneson
Pokémon GO: love it or hate it, this new augmented, reality-based game has taken the world by storm. The game is built on two decades of story development and nostalgia, and practically inescapable — there are even places to receive items and train right here on campus.
The ever-present nature of Pokémon GO concerns some people — players are likely to spend more time on their phones collecting Poké Balls than socializing, and playing the game while driving can lead to accidents due to distraction. However, the pros of Pokémon GO outweigh the cons: the game encourages physical activity, lets people of all ages connect in a way that they’ve never been able to before and has helped people with autism connect with others.
Pokémon GO is based on the real world using real locations, so to genuinely experience the game, the player has to get up and go. Locations where items can be collected, called PokéStops, are places with high foot traffic such as landmarks, churches and libraries. To get the items from the PokéStop, the player has to physically be there. Movement is such a huge part of Pokémon GO that Fresno City College will offer a walking class incorporating the game this fall.
Gamers fell in love with Pokémon when the first game was released in 1996, and many still love those first games, but not everyone wants to commit the number of hours necessary to complete the story. Pokémon GO reanimates the loveable characters in a more laid-back fashion — the game doesn’t make players listen to long monologues or remember backstories, it just lets them have fun catching small creatures.
People who grew up with the Pokémon games are playing right alongside kids who are just discovering Pokémon, and even those who struggle with technology can get in on the craze. The mechanics of the game are simple — it mostly involves walking around and tapping or swiping on the screen of the phone. Anyone can play Pokémon GO, which lets players create bonds with other players, even if they never would have spoken otherwise.
Another great benefit of Pokémon GO is how it’s helped players with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) connect with others.
People with ASD often struggle with social anxiety and fitting in, but playing Pokémon GO gives them and their peers a common interest. This common interest can make for easier and better interactions with others.
Pokémon GO isn’t without its critics, and some criticisms of the game and its players are sound. Some players trespass on private property, which rightfully angers the owners of the property, and playing the game while driving is extremely dangerous since distraction is the leading cause of road accidents. However, as long as players stay aware of their surroundings and obey the law, it’s a harmless game that provides lots of entertainment. Who wouldn’t want to own a Pikachu?