Pokemon Go is out in North America. The augmented-reality game by Niantic is already the #1 app on the iTunes charts. My coworkers are talking about it. I overheard someone in the street attempting to explain it to their friend. It’s official: Pokemon Go is a huge thing, and probably will be for a while. I downloaded it on day one and have played it here and there, worrying and amusing my loved ones in equal measures.

Here’s some information about my life: I live in an apartment directly above a restaurant, and it’s a Pokestop. That means when I’m close to it, I get Pokeballs and other goodies by spinning a virtual coin that represents the real-life location. Also, right next door to me is an Irish Pub that I have hated with a passion from the very day I moved in. Drunk people playing beer-pong on the patio until late in the night. The smell of vomit and urine as I exit the building in the morning to walk to work. But recently, something changed: Casey’s Pub has become a Pokestop. Now I sort of love the place.

“Who knew Big Brother would also be Cool Older Brother?”  

So I guess in some ways, Pokemon Go is already re-configuring our relationship with the physical world. A bit like Ingress and games of its ilk before it, Pokemon Go is a very odd thing for those of us who weren’t born with smartphones in our hands. As a futurist (and a newfound convert to our own Alfie Bown‘s love for technological and social acceleration) I am delighted to see new technologies proliferate, creating RPG’s of our everyday lives. On the other hand, as someone who’s watched many dystopian films (and somewhat understands how Big Data functions) an app that has me staring down at my phone as I chase imaginary creatures along crowded streets — and feeds information about my daily movements to a giant corporation — is pretty fucking worrisome and bizarre. Who knew Big Brother would also be Cool Older Brother? Who knew it would feel so friendly and fun to be owned by a faceless monolith?


Now to address the title of the article. Yeah yeah, it may seem like clickbait, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. Already people have injured themselves, an Australian Police Station has been forced to explain to people that they can use it as a Pokestop without actually entering the building, and some poor kid has found a dead body instead of the pokemon he was chasing. Keep in mind that the game has only been out for 4 days in Australia, 3 in North America! There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s just a matter of time: somebody is going to die playing Pokemon Go. I just hope it won’t be me.

I haven’t battled much yet, unless you consider re-entering my google login 15 times and contending with recurring server issues ‘battling’.”  

So is the game any good? Well, I’ve certainly enjoyed playing it so far. I’m a level 5 pokemon trainer. I’ve captured more than a dozen critters, and chosen my affiliation at a Pokegym (I went with Mystic). I haven’t battled much yet, unless you consider re-entering my google login 15 times and contending with recurring server issues ‘battling’. Oh and I’ve experienced several freezes, crashes, and other bugs. But hey, I keep spinning the coins, I’m incubating my first egg, I’ll probably battle some coworkers come next week, and my wife has asked me to be careful when I play so I don’t end up flattened by an SUV. So yeah, I guess it’s a pretty sweet game.

As a bonus, here’s Werner Herzog’s From One Moment to the Next, a documentary about texting, driving, and death. Just swap out ‘texting’ with ‘playing Pokemon Go’, and you’re all set:

About The Author

Editor in jefe

Julian is a pair of glasses in third transformation. He's on an eternal quest to find the perfect RPG that will solve all his problems.

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