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July 20, 2016

Pokémon Go: Have Some ******* Common Sense

The new Pokémon craze is here, and it’s taken over the lives of millions of people. I can see why, Pokémon Go is a very interesting idea with a lot of potential, and it finally gives kids and adults a reason to go play outside. I can’t complain about Pokémon Go’s qualities. I can, however, complain about the many, many defects it has. I would have discussed the extreme storing of data that the app used to do, keeping track of even the last website visited by someone on the phone, and the many, MANY things it could learn about the user thanks to a complete access to the player’s Google account. Both these problems have been solved. What hasn’t been solved is the app’s tendency to crash in certain zones after you’ve tossed a Pokéball, the overabundance of Pidgey, Weedle and Rattata, and the rarity of Pokémon, Pokéstops and Gyms in some suburbs (including mine). I also think its paying options demand too much real money and give not enough Pokécoins for what you pay (in Canada, anyway; due to conversion rates, that 14500 Pokécoins pack you can buy at 100$ in the US costs 135$ here). Honestly, I don’t think it’s all that fantastic an app; it has caused me to rage more often that it has made me joyful.

But the same way that, in programming and computers, the problem was between the keyboard and the chair, with this app the problem is frequently the person playing. And this is why we can’t have nice things. Pokémon Go is meant to be a new form of social game, but it’s so addictive that, somehow, the whole “common sense” part of the brain seems to completely shut off. How long until our streets become an MMORPG’s chatroom? Some people have already discussed the issues of going around looking at a phone, which can be interpreted as “doing shifty things” by those who know nothing about technology, and how it could bedangerous for, say, people of color to play this for that same reason. Cops are way too fast on the trigger these days in the US, especially when they’re facing someone who’s not white. But I digress. Here is a quick guide to what one should and shouldn’t do while playing Pokémon Go. And I call it “Have Some Fucking Common Sense” because I know I’ll be mostly speaking to adults. And, to be honest, that’s the sad part.

1. Don’t Pokémon Go and drive

My vision of humans in general tends to be pretty dark. Every time I seem to regain a bit of hope, something else happens to put me down. Things were nice for a while, then Nice happened… I’ve just come to accept human stupidity, even perhaps build an immunity to it. I do everything possible to avoid doing something stupid, I avoid surrounding myself with morons, but I am not protected from everything. And I can’t, for the love of me, comprehend that some morons would play Pokémon Go WHILE THEY ARE DRIVING. Fuck, every week there’s a new report of somebody that killed themselves texting behind the wheel! Isn’t that enough for you? As with everything, some will say “I’ll never do that!”… and then will try as soon as they can. I can’t understand that mindset seeing as in my car, my phone has only one use, playing music, and if I get a call, I wait until I’ve reached my destination to call back.

You don't usually expect to have a squee from a
tweet posted by a police department.
You probably don’t realize it when you’ve been driving for years without any accident, but a car is a weapon. It’s extremely dangerous for the people around who are NOT protected by a metal carcass, and it’s not quite safe either for others who are in their own cars. Driving requires that you’re wary of your surroundings at all times, as much as humanly possible. Or you could badly injure someone, or worse even, kill someone else. Or yourself. You could say the age-old “ah, it only happens to others, it won’t happen to me”… Would you still say that if it happened to you? Are you sure you really want to take that risk? The data animals on the screen can’t hurt you, but the real world can mess you up. Long story short, don’t Pokémon Go and drive.

Thankfully, as shown on the tweet in the picture on the right, many police departments have accepted the new reality and some agents seem to actually be Pokémon-savvy enough to appeal directly to the fanbase, helping spread the message. (Here's the original tweet, check the responses! They're great!)

For those who played the original Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow versions, I’ll just leave this here.

UPDATE: As proof that I'm not joking about this point, the Washington State Patrol - yes, the same one who posted that Eevee gif on Twitter - reported their first collision caused by Pokémon Go. No injuries, thankfully. But don't gamble with your own life.

2. If it looks dangerous, don’t go

Sounds like common sense, but this entire article is about the loss of common sense players often exhibit when enjoying Pokémon Go. There may be Pokémon appearing on places like a building site, near a cliff, deep in the woods, or in a neighborhood renowned for its criminality. Of course, you can’t always preview that a place can be dangerous, but again, common sense should help. The last thing you want on your Pokémon quest is to hurt yourself, whether you fall off a cliff or hit the pavement. Do take into consideration that tree stumps, open manholes and other small things exist and that, if you don’t look down or lift the eyes off your phone, you can soon find yourself injured.

3. Don’t go where you are not allowed to go

Pictured: An old Nebbercracker who figured out how
to use Microsoft Word. Other similar old folks
might skip the warning.
Adding to Point 2… “Dangerous place” and “place where you’re not allowed to be” frequently overlap, but some places seem safe enough. The neighbor’s lawn, as an example, or a field that belongs to somebody else. If you have nice neighbors and they don’t like you stepping on their property, they’ll tell you, and you should accept theiir rule. If that forest over there has a big sign that says you can’t go, don’t go. “No Trespassing” means “No Trespassing”, even if you’re playing Pokémon Go. And when it comes to the US, considering how heavily armed some people are, chances are you want to avoid trouble. Regardless of your race. Let’s pray no one ever winds up in a situation like this… You know what, take a walk around your neighborhood, stay on the sidewalks, you should be fine. No need to go in places where you’re not allowed. Old Nebbercracker doesn’t want you on his lawn and gets angry when you do? Don’t go on the old Nebbercracker’s lawn. Yes, I made a reference to the old and dated CGI film Monster House. Come at me.

4. That rare Pokémon can wait

I couldn't say it better.
Oh, I’ll get HATE for this one! I’m not looking forwards for that. See, Pokémon Go is addictive, I know. You’re always looking for the next rare Pokémon. And in the little time I played, the rarer Pokémon I found were Seadra and Drowzee. I get it, you need to jump into the action as soon as you find a rare Pokémon. But there are some times where you can’t catch it, for a reason or another. Again, either you’re driving, or you’re working, or you should be doing something else that is far more important than Pokémon Go… How about accepting that you can’t catch it this time around and you’ll find it another day? Call the app Pokémon Let It Go for today and wait till the next time it shows up in your vicinity. Hopefully there won't be too many stories of people being fired for playing the game. Some employers do try to prevent that, though, as the image shows.

Pokémon-hunting is fun and all, but it can wait. There is a time and a place for that. The bus? Sure. When you’re relaxing at home? Go ahead. However, there have also been pictures of people playing Go in the middle of funerals, other official events, or at places like the Holocaust museum. Seriously… don’t do that. Before Pokémon Go, you probably weren’t playing games at inopportune times. Maybe you should observe the same societal rules you followed before. If you don’t, then maybe Pokémon is becoming an actual addiction and you should take action to prevent it from taking over your entire life.

You do know you'll be sending that Pidgey at Willow for a measly Pidgey Candy.
At this funeral, you're mourning a person who was much more important than that.

5. Don’t annoy those who don’t play the game

I’m on a bunch of gaming groups on Facebook, mostly for people in the province of Quebec. Pokémon Go posts are… starting to piss some people off. There are players who just can’t think of anything else anymore and make sure to tell everyone about their great new catches. Or they want to share their newest picture, like the Drowzee who seemed to be high in front of a medicinal marijuana dispenser. I laughed at that one too. Or the Diglett that appeared on the toilet. You like the app? Like it all you want. Don’t nag your fellow gamers who don’t want to play. Don’t annoy people who are already uninterested, because they’ll then be uninterested and angry at the app and its users. You don’t want that. The last time I saw so much hate for something, it was the Minions. Do you want Pokémon Go to be the next thing so popular and advertised that many people get sick of it? I doubt it.

6. AND don’t be a dickhead to the other players

Talking about bad attitude… Yeah, for starters, playing the game doesn’t immediately make you better than everyone else. It doesn’t make you better than players of the main series games, it also doesn’t make you better than other ARG players. Having a good team and being a Gym Leader also doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole. Nor should you be an asshole because a nearby rare Pokémon was caught by someone else. If you’re becoming such a sore winner or loser, all for fucking Pokémon Go, it’s seriously time to stop playing. Put the app down, go on therapy… stop before you punch a teenager in the face, because you’ll regret it if cops come to arrest you for assault.

Wow, this article is dark…

7. ....You know what, just be wary of dickheads

Don't worry, Pokémon fans from Texas.
The guy was arrested. Still, what the fuck's wrong with
him that he somehow feels right in saying stuff like that?
The reason I brought that last point up is that… well… competitive Pokémon battling has become a reality now, with people dueling face-to-face with the little critters they caught. Not everyone has that thing known as sportsmanship. Let’s say you’re not the type of person described at Point 6, and you’re a respectful, nice Pokémon Go player. You might well meet someone who is the type of person in Point 6. The upside of competitive ARG like these is that you can meet a lot of people who may become your friends. The downside is that, well, not everyone is a friendly little competitor. Some people you meet can be of the variety that doesn’t accept defeat. And that’s, of course, if the people you meet are actual competitors.

You’ve heard of that story where four teens set up a Pokémon lure and mugged the unsuspecting Pokémon Go players who approached them? Oh, and what about that guy who posted on Facebook that he was gonna go shoot down Pokémon Go players? Yeah, my point exactly. When someone comes up with a brilliant, innovative idea, you KNOW someone else will be more than happy to do horrible things with it, or to the people using it. So, always be on the lookout for things that look like traps, or for sore players. This is hopefully my last point that discusses the awful in people, because that’s not helping my mood and I bet it’s not helping yours either.

8. Don’t be mad at stores that forbid it

Whelp, guess you can forget about that tenth Venonat
unless you buy a hot chocolate.
Tying with Point 4, there really is a time and a place for Pokémon Go. But one must also realize that the world doesn’t stop turning as they play. The universe and all of mankind don’t grind to a halt while you’re pretending to catch a critter. You spotted a Kadabra in that store! You want it! You enter the store… what’s that? “Pokémon Go: The Pokémon are for customers only”? How DARE they put up such a rule! Well… whether you like it or not, stores are businesses. The people who enter, they’re supposed to be clients. Not people playing a game. I mean, places like IHOP or Waffle House accept LARPers in the middle of night, but that’s because these LARPers are there to eat. They're clients, no matter what they're dressed as. The same cannot be said for Pokémon Go players.

And you come in with your sole intent being to catch some animal that appeared on your device. Or sometimes it takes over your grocery shopping. It’s gotten bad enough that stores like Asda had to set up lists of rules for their customers who would abandon trolleys and run down aisles in quest for a mighty (or perhaps not so mighty) beast. A store isn’t really interested in you walking inside if you’re not buying anything or if you have no other kind of business there. Stores expect customers, so please understand if they set up rules regarding Pokémon Go in their establishments.

Thankfully, some stores and establishments welcome this with open arms, as long as the players do decide to buy a little something. It's beneficial for the store, so the places that take this with a bit of humor are definitely going to get more popular then before - as proof, the Asda example linked above.

9. Don’t let it absorb the rest of your life

Yes, homework is boring. But once it's complete,
it's complete forever and you have many hours of
free time to catch Pokémon.
And, finally, the one that ties everything else together: Don’t become an addict. It’s very easy to get addicted to something, whether it’s idle games, clickers, Pepsi, flavored popcorn, casino games, booze, pot or meth. Video games in general can be an addiction, but Pokémon Go is a special case. Yes, it has very beneficial consequences, it makes the kids go outside, it makes you meet new people, and it can make you discover new places. That’s all fine and good. But don’t have Pokémon Go become your priority in life. You can love playing this game, at the end of the day it’s just a game. If you have things to do, like an urgent report to hand in, you’d be better off doing the important things first, and then play Pokémon Go. Oh, and of course, don’t waste all of your money. That 14500 Poké-Gold is tempting, but don’t burn all of your cash on that app.

Pictured: What I would like to call stealing,
but I won't, even though I really want to.
In Canada, they're even more expensive.

I guess that’s all I have to say about Pokémon Go… I don’t think it’s a fantastic app, it’s definitely a game with great ideas and concepts and a wonderful incentive to go out and play, and I am nearly addicted to it myself, but I wanted to post this. I find this game okay at best, but I believe I will enjoy it more after a few updates and patches. But if you love the app, love it. You have every right to. Just be careful where you’re going, and remember that one person’s freedom begins where another’s freedom ends. Long story short… keep some common sense while playing, and you should like Pokémon Go even more than you do now.