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The Cultural Implications of ‘Pokemon Go’




Pokemon Go has become the most downloaded game in the history of mobile games. It has become a phenomenon among children, teens, and even adults. It’s definitely had an impact since its release slightly over 2 weeks ago, from cities hosting meetup events, to companies using the app to help with their advertising.

However, like all new things, there are those who oppose Pokemon Go. If you search social media for a short time, you’re bound to find a person complaining about seeing someone playing while driving, someone walking in front of oncoming traffic, or even that people are on their phones too much. And I can’t say they’re wrong in their complaints, at least not completely. There have been numerous cases since the game’s launch of something moronic being done by half-witted players, such as people trespassing, jaywalking, and even one case where a guy fell off a bridge.

Some complaints are very justified, but let’s not disregard the various positive impacts it’s left on the world. Pokemon Go has encouraged thousands of gamers to go out and exercise and allows them to enjoy doing it. It’s promoted social interaction that a lot of people may not have gotten otherwise. I can say that thanks to Pokemon Go, I’ve begun to walk about 3 miles a day, and every day I feel a bit better about myself. I’ve seen first-hand, a group of kids, teens, and adults all socializing at a mall (that happened to be a Pokestop), talking about the rarest and strongest Pokemon they caught. It can be surreal at times, seeing the social impacts in person and witnessing different social classes all bonding over the same experience.

There have been reports of businesses that have seen spikes in sales because their venue just so happens to also be a Pokestop and countless stories of kids going outside more often, even in the heat of summer to chase Pokemon in their neighborhoods. Various churches have also reported an unusual amount of visitors as of late. Pokemon Go has really changed the places we go, and for some of us, it’s changed how we live day to day. Will it last? Only time will tell, but for the time being, it’s put a positive spin on the world around us. Those of us that wouldn’t go outside much, or explore our cities and neighborhoods now find ourselves doing so.

So has it had a true cultural impact? I would argue that it certainly has. For the better or worse depends on your point of view I suppose, but I think the good it’s done for millions of people far outweighs the few small cases of some unlucky folk who have done something irresponsible while playing the game. Pokemon Go has done things other games have struggled to do, it’s allowed people of all ages to enjoy the same game, together. It has encouraged even the laziest gamers to get out and explore the world. It’s these reasons why I think Pokemon Go is historic, as it’s had such a large impact on the world, and as more people begin to play, we will hopefully see even more positive aspects arise.