Pros and Cons of the Pokémon Go Craze

Pokémon Go is the game keeping noses buried in phones across the country. In today’s blog post, Jessica Olstad talks about the benefits of playing the game (Exercise! Tourism! Increased Demand!) and the traits that are downright ticking people off.

PokemonI was in high school in 1991. I never got in to Pokémon when it was first introduced that year, and I fail to see the appeal now. I can be swayed; after all, 21 million other people find Pokémon Go fascinating. So much so, it’s the most active mobile game in U.S. history, and it is gaining ground elsewhere.

Pokémon Go allows players to capture, battle and train virtual Pokémon who appear throughout the real world. The app uses GPS and the phone’s camera to play. It’s free with several in-app purchases. Over the past week, I’ve seen my adult friends – and their kids – get equally psyched about finding Pokémon. I’ll hand it to the creators – it has broad age appeal.

But that aside, what else can this game do?

  • It gets you off the couch. Countless medical professionals praise the game because, well, you can’t play it unless you’re moving around. Think about all the hidden gems people are finding in their own towns that they never knew about, thanks to a game (this guy quit his job to search for cartoon characters full time). On the contrary, it’s an awful lot of time spent on your cell phone.
  • Selfishly for us here at CommScope, can you imagine the spike in bandwidth that the network is experiencing over the last few weeks? The app took off virtually overnight. On the flip side, though, were companies adequately equipped to handle the sudden spike in demand?
  • As a communications professional, I can’t help but think about the marketing and PR potential in this game. Perhaps it reaches a commercial point where businesses pay the creators to strategically place a Pokémon inside their store to drive traffic or sales. “There’s a Pokémon here, and it just so happens, I just got a 25 percent off coupon on my phone!” PC World says Niantic, the creators of the app, are already teasing sponsored locations.

The cynic in me also sees the downside of this game.

  • This app learns a great deal about you. It has access to your location, your camera, your email account. Some have called it a security risk. It’s not the only app that has all of this info, but it pays to be aware of what you’re giving away.
  • While it’s getting people out and about, it’s creating a bit of a traffic hazard (photo courtesy of WTMJ-TV). There are laws passed about texting while driving, but there are certainly no laws about playing Pokémon Go while driving. I’ve seen people walking around, their noses buried in their phone, and I can’t help but think they’ll be hit by a car, walk into a pole or fall into a ditch.
  • It’s all about the game. Players need to ensure that not only they’re safe, but they’re also being courteous – and not trespassing.

Whether you’re a hard core Pokémon hunter, or you happen upon a cartoon character on accident, it pays to be careful, respectful and mindful of your data. As mom would say, you need to look out for yourself. And watch your step.