Pokemon Go: Players need to look beyond virtual fantasies'

Not only physically, but hackers are also attacking Pokemon GO servers, which may lead to loss of personal data as well.

The success garnered by the all new augmented reality game Pokemon Go, based on one of the most popular shows during the late ‘90s and early 2000s, has been awe-inspiring to say the least. It has achieved an unimaginable feat for a mere mobile game, outperforming globally popular social media platforms, dating apps, and adult websites.

Since Pokemon Go was ‘partially released’, reports have suggested that the game’s download rate has gone through the roof, overtaking the likes of popular social media platforms. Even the developers of this game Niantec Labs, a former Google division, did not expect it to perform so well and hence the endless server crashes.

The game, even before it was released in most parts of the world, led to the rise of Nintendo’s market value by a confounding $7.8 billion, after investors thought that the company was responsible for making the game. However, the company’s shares plummeted 17 per cent on July 25 after it clarified in a statement that it was not responsible for making the game and only held stakes in Niantec Labs. Irrespective of this fact, the game has still managed to upscale the business prospect of the two companies.

Such is the popularity of this game that users have applied numerous tricks such as using fake Apple IDs, Android APKs to run the game in locations where it is not yet available.

However, not all is hunky-dory; there have been several counts of eerie incidents all due to the materialisation of this abstract game. Though there are numerous socially positive elements to this game, there is no doubt that it is treading on hazardous grounds; something that users have been warned about by experts but ignored palpably.

For people who are not entirely conscious about how the game works, Pokemon Go is an effort by Niantec Labs and other third party developers to help Pokemon fans seek and catch their favourite pocket monsters in a real-life environment setup, using a handset’s GPS services.

Some might be lucky enough to find a Pokemon right at their door steps or desks but few others require delving deep into different territories including water bodies, holy places, cemeteries, and even neighbouring residencies.

While the game has helped numerous fans re-live their childhood, it has also led to some shocking and precarious incidents. Though the concept is well-thought, augmented reality can be defined as 'visible fantasy', and it's not possible for fantasy and reality to co-exist.

Back in the days, I was a huge fan of the anime series and it would be wrong to say that I wasn’t excited about the arrival of such a distinct game. But the stories I have heard after the inception of this game made me wonder if this is actually worthy of all the acclamation.

‘No second chance if you die’

Agreed that the progression of technology has given avid gamers the choice to oust boring screens and step out in the open to play smart games but playing in a real world setup is poles apart from what console gaming offers. At least sitting in front of screens and operating joysticks won’t kill players, unlike this game which has already claimed a lot of lives, and injured manifold others.

Some squabble that the game is a step towards the future and it will compel other companies to build similar games and apps utilising augmented reality. However, it just does not seem right to woo a game that has led players straight to traps set by hackers, criminals, and others who want to use this as a platform maliciously.

Other than that, there have been other reports on how mass gatherings in areas have caused stampedes, commotions, and life threatening accidents. It’s weird how people are turning a blind eye towards the consequences this game has led to. Considering the number of fatal incidents that have been occurring due to this game, it should either be banned or regulated to put an end to this bedlam.

Causing nuisance

How would you feel if 50-something people intrude your residency on a pleasant Sunday morning and start hunting for Pokemon? I am sure you would be disturbed and this is specifically what countless residencies have been encountering over the past few weeks.

If that’s not enough, there have been incidents where these players have intruded cemeteries, churches, museums, and even hospitals to catch an exotic Pokemon or find a Pokestop—a place to refill Pokeballs used to catch Pokemon.

Players around the globe have also introduced Poke-walks where they seek and capture diverse Pokemon in groups. As I said, it’s a nice way for people to bond but definitely not at the cost of disrupting peace.

While these types of ventures are leading to a lot of annoyance for local law enforcement, the game has reportedly led to an international incident on the US-Canada border region, as two Canadian teens unintentionally crossed it. And people who are grilling the law officials regarding their warnings should read the numerous counts of unfortunate consequences that Pokemon Go maniacs have suffered.

It’s nearly impossible to list down the unending catalogue of accidents that have taken place due to this game but these are indications for people to be more cautious while playing.

Too much of anything ruins the appetite

I mentioned earlier about my love for Pokemon as a kid but never in my wildest thought did I think that a mere game would lead people into quitting jobs to become a 'master' at this game.

Teens and young adults who got hooked on to the game since day one have also gone berserk; some have left home without informing family members and there are others who have gotten deeply involved with the game.

It’s understandable that the out-of-the-box concept has given players a sense of amusement they never enjoyed before but that doesn’t mean it can become a full-time activity, as witnessed in many cases across different regions.

Paradoxically, the best part of the game is also its worst feature: exploration. The game is attracting more teenagers by giving them a chance to explore their surroundings but there is a major concern here is the fact that half of them have no clue where they will go, often leading them to trouble.

In fact, some criminals are particularly taking advantage of this game by hanging around in potential Pokemon hotspots.

However, players just don’t seem to care, as was the case with an Oregon-based 22-year-old chap, who continued playing the game even after he was stabbed after refusing to receive treatment. While he was lucky enough to survive the attack, others have faced far severe consequences.

Not only physically, but hackers are also attacking Pokemon GO servers, which may lead to loss of personal data as well. Yet, the hype has been increasing despite all warnings.

Having said that, I would like to clearly mention that the game is not bad but lacks realistic guidelines or regulations. The developers have clearly ignored the several facets that could have made this game a safe one.

Also, teens and post-teens who are spending day in and day out playing this game should also take time out to ‘live their life’ rather than staying glued to the this game from sunrise to sunset.

Guess the ancient belief that ‘too much of something can disrupt balance’ can be justifiably quoted to address this situation. If the mood triggered by the game cannot be changed soon, players should at least stay safe while playing this game.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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