But what are Pokémon and what is the story behind them? Pokemon are fictional, very colorful, alien-like ‘anime’ creatures developed for Pokemon computer games, started by Nintendo back in the 1990’s. There are hundreds of them (765 to be precise). Probably the most well-known of these are the Pikachu characters. So what do you do with these Pokémon? Players are referred to as ‘trainers’, and they capture and train the Pokemon characters to fight in a digital game arena.
Very soon, almost everyone with a smartphone and an internet connection knew about it, and downloaded the free application onto their devices. Having done that, most people couldn’t wait to rush outside and try it out. And the Pokémon were waiting…
Then there were complaints of trespassing, traffic violations (jaywalking, people walking carelessly out onto the road and causing accidents, crowds blocking traffic, and so on), crime (some hackers created fake Pokémon to lure unsuspecting players to remote locations, whereupon they were mugged or robbed.) Some players became so obsessed with catching Pokémon that they became enraged at any ‘real world’ obstacles in their way. There was a video I saw on YouTube that captured this perfectly, although it is believed to be a ‘set-up’ by many viewers. (See below). The Pokémon company was forced to put warnings at the beginning of the game as it opened on users’ devices.
Since the end of summer, the number of players seen in public has decreased dramatically. Some blame the fact that players couldn’t interact directly within the game, as is possible in so many other online games. Others blamed a lack of features and possible elements that would have made gameplay more fulfilling and longer-lasting. One unfortunate incident included an update which accidently deleted many of the Pokémon that players had collected. There was also a perceived lack of communication between the company and players. However, Pokémon Go has always been a game that relied on novelty, and once that wore off, there was little that the company could do to keep players interested.
Now the local park is empty again, and certainly devoid of people chasing Pokémon. There are still a couple of related incidents reported in the news, the latest being a truck driver who was playing the game while driving. Tragically, he hit a child walking across a pedestrian crossing. As if texting while driving wasn’t bad enough, there are people out there playing Pokémon Go while driving! Scary. The families are gone from the park, the Poké balls are gone from the application on my phone, and I find that these days, it’s more a case of Pokémon … Gone!