The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Pokemon Go isn't the enemy: human nature is


With Pokemon Go’s immense and sudden popularity, crowds of naysayers have risen up to battle it. Newspapers and Facebook feeds alike have been cluttered with reports of armed robberies at PokeStops and conspiracy theories about government data collection. Admittedly, the sudden wave of players has overloaded even the best servers in the world, leaving Pokemon Go seeming disorganized at best and dangerous at worst. But it isn’t all Gloom and doom: Pokemon Go also has enormous potential for growth beyond the gaming sphere. A company value of  $18 billion, combined with the support of 21 million users, could allow game developer Niantic to push the boundaries of augmented and virtual reality.

Pokemon Go also encourages individuals to explore new aspects of their environment—sometimes for the first time in their lives. According to reports from Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and more, monuments around the world have seen spikes in attendance of up to 60 or 70%. More people have begun to visit and donate to national parks because of the abundance of Pokemon there. In doing so, they not only improve their personal health, but also revitalize underfunded and neglected public spaces Some historical monuments, explains a National Public Radio article, need up to $12 million to maintain, and encouraging families to visit is the first step to boosting funding.

Even if some pundits claim that these games are destroying personal relationships, change is no excuse to refuse technological innovation. Social norms constantly shift based on the developments occurring around them, and people have the responsibility to use technology wisely.

Similarly, the accidents happening “because of Pokemon Go” are not really happening because of Pokemon Go. They are happening because of people—people who are willing to break the law in order to catch small, digital animals on their iPhones. The Pokemon Go stampede in Beitou on August 22nd this year, for example, was  the result of people prioritizing Pokemon over traffic rules.

The game did not create an uglier side to human nature: it only revealed it. And that is arguably a good thing. If scientists and legislators can use the Pokemon phenomenon to analyze what makes people willing to trespass on private private property for the sake of a Pikachu, our legal systems can be modified to fit human inclinations. This would not just solve the game’s problems; it could also e-Raticate traffic problems entirely. While Niantic—and the world—still has a long way to go before Pokemon Go is safe, the game has the potential to improve our lives. So don’t be a Snorlax: get off your couch and go catch ‘em all!

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