Image Credit: DeviantArt / P4koSeries
Pokemon Go is a very, very popular game. I spent the past weekend in London, and everywhere I looked at least a handful of people were on their phones, exploring their surroundings in search of new additions to their PokeCollection. But as with every major new trend, the mobile game has a very vocal set of detractors who are swiftly becoming larger thorns in players’ sides.
It’s fun to criticize things. We’ve all thrown our opinions into the ether, poking at the bandwagon in order to get a rise out of one its inhabitants. But sometimes the thing we are criticizing becomes such a seismic force that our words can do literally nothing to impede its progress, as is the case with Pokemon Go. Unfortunately, that hasn’t prevented people from trying.
Pokemon Go does have its problems. As I have previously discussed, the game’s fundamentals aren’t conducive to long-term enjoyment, with it also currently being crippled by frequent server issues and crashes. However, that doesn’t make it any less addictive, and it is still undeniably satisfying to go on a hunt for a rare Pokemon, catch it and then use it to take over your local gym for your chosen team. But there is a big difference between criticizing the game and complaining about those who enjoy to play it, with that difference being that no one cares if you think it’s silly that a bunch of people are playing a game that encourages them to get active by way of catching cute virtual monsters.
Recently an image of a sign created by an exasperated Pokemon Go detractor went viral, with it encouraging readers to “Get a life and stay out of my yard.” The sign concluded: “There is a bar up the street and around the corner. Go there, have a beer, and seriously think about your life choices.”
Now, this is just one sign, but it is representative of the wider range of criticisms that have been leveled at Pokemon Go. Throughout the history of gaming as a form of entertainment, those who have struggled to understand its appeal have frequently pegged those who do as sunlight-averse, basement-dwelling, socially inept losers who choose to play video games not out of enjoyment, but because they find virtual worlds easier to deal with than the real one. Up until quite recently the mainstream media largely depicted those who played video games as people who should “get outside more,” and who should invest time in more important achievements than the ones afforded to them by objectives distributed by villagers in role-playing games.
Pokemon Go has left these people at a loss, then, because it’s tasking those who enjoy video games with actually venturing outside in order to become better at the game. As such, the age-old argument that those enjoying a video game should go outside more has become an irrelevant one, with it now being replaced by the complaint that these people aren’t enjoying the great outdoors in the way that they should be. Rather than travelling around and throwing balls at weird animals in augmented reality, they should instead be propping up a bar somewhere, or looking at trees, or pondering the futility of their own existence while sitting on the train to their shitty admin job. It’s not enough to simply be outside anymore – now these weird video game playin’ shut-ins need to be outside, eyes firmly fixated on anything other than their smartphones, doing exactly the things that the old men shouting at clouds have said that they should be doing.
Unfortunately for these naysayers, the world is simply too consumed by Pokemon Go to give much of a shit about their criticisms of it. The game has become such a unstoppable force that the shame grown adults should apparently feel for playing it has been eradicated, replaced by the sight of an army of twenty-somethings marching around their local city in desperate search for a Vaporeon. Yes, Pokemon Go may be “pointless,” but it’s ultimately not half as pointless as complaining at those who play it. At this point, doing so would attract such an ambivalent response from those you’re criticizing that you may as well direct your complaints at a brick wall, because at the very least the brick wall wouldn’t be playing Pokemon Go while you were ranting at it. If you dislike Pokemon Go then that’s perfectly understandable, but for the love of Arceus, shut up telling other people that they should dislike it, too.