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July 31, 2016

Pokémon Go: Two Completely Different Points of View

(Note: This article was written before a game-changing event happened around Pokémon Go. I will talk about it tomorrow.)

Seeing the popularity of the previous post, I decided to discuss Pokémon Go some more. Clickbait? No, not at all. Let’s simply say that after about three weeks spent playing this game, not only have I been able to get a general idea of the game, I have also seen just how much it divided people.

I don’t like saying bad things about Quebec, but we’re a society of complainers. It seems to me sometimes that our national sport isn’t hockey; it’s complaining and whining on social media. Or wherever the public is given a place to vent their frustration for everyone else to hear. In some cases, it can be justified, but a general lack of research combined with a lot of misinformation leads to people taking the wrong causes or the wrong points of view. What’s more, the media, as always, is a mirror that actually deforms the reality. Obviously, very rarely if ever do we discuss good news; why? That doesn’t bring an audience in. They talk about the tragedies that occur because of it. They talk about the idiots who do stupid shit because of the app. THAT, my friend, is what the media wants to show. Because it’s less about showing the truth than it is about showing drama.

If an idiot does something idiotic while playing the app, the problem is not the app, the problem is the idiot. Yet, for every idiot who gets their hands on Pokémon Go, there’s at least a thousand intelligent players. If not more. But obviously, nobody ever talks about these intelligent players; there’s not a news story there. And thus news outlets, caricaturists, will gladly point out the addiction caused by Pokémon Go…

And then they say that I'm the cynical one.

…and thus that’s what the larger public gets exposed to. Therefore, I’ve seen such extreme points of view as someone calling all Pokémon Go players “addicted zombies”, and I’ve seen other joyful similar terms. At the same time, I have lived two wildly different experiences with the people discussing the game.

The date is July 29th. My birthday. I had work at 3 PM, so I go Pokémon-seeking for a moment, in the hopes of catching a female Nidoran (kinda uncommon) or a Psyduck (pretty damn rare). I live in a suburban area, so Pokémon spawns here are kinda rare; I’m just thankful I live a minute of walk away from a common spawning point, and two minutes away from a Pokéstop. I go out and see there’s a father with his two kids, they’re playing Pokémon Go; Heck, they immediately recognize me as a player since I was looking at my screen while walking. They tell me they’re looking for Eevee, since they’re the next most common thing after Rattata, Weedle and Pidgey. I can see why, you need 75 Eevee candies to get all three Eeveelutions. The kids seemed to happy to be running around catching virtual beasts on their devices, with the parent nearby to watch over them. And the father seemed pretty happy too to follow them around, ask them if they had spotted any good Pokémon nearby; he even called Eevee by name! Seems like a cool dad to me.

On the other side, I’ve discussed with someone who is completely the opposite; so reviled and disgusted by Pokémon Go that she felt justified to insult everyone who played it. I won’t name names. I’ll just say it happened on Facebook, after someone posted one of the pictures shown higher (the Pikachu with the sign sending people down the cliff) on a gaming community. She was quick on the insult button and peppering her posts with the “exasperated” emoticon (though everyone will tell you it looked like the “angry” one. She wouldn’t stop even after being told off by just about everyone else, she was also putting down anyone who claimed “well, it makes us go out and exercise!” by saying they should have had the will to do that without the app anyway. I stepped in at that point. In the end, it seemed pretty clear that she had no desire to understand the appeal, she was bashing on everyone who said anything good about the app.

Alas, a person in Quebec who complains about something without knowing a damn thing on what they’re complaining about, it’s more common than Pidgey. I checked on the woman’s page and saw she had two young children; I tried saying that it was inevitable, her children would someday want video games at home, and that she might actually enjoy going out for a walk with them playing something like Pokémon Go. To which she explained that the father of these kids is, I quote, “a gamer nolife”. How bad it really is, I don’t know; she also says that she won’t be the “cool” kind of parent, that in her mind kids should just play outside to make friends and not play video games, and that if her kids want anything even tangentially electronic they’ll have to pay for it themselves.

To which I replied that teens today need at least a cell phone because the world around us is crazy enough and we never know what might happen; her kids are too young for cell phones, but once they reach the teenage years they will need one to stay in contact with friends, and with her. To which she replied that cell phones get stolen all the time anyway, that all their friends will have cell phones so that’s the ones her kids will use if they ever need to call, etc. Basically closed to any kind of argument I tried to put forth. It’s her choice; I can’t change her opinion. Still no apologies for rudeness either even though she got significantly more polite after I started bringing in valid arguments based on the future of her children. And at least she stopped posting there after we had our discussion, so there’s that.

Just goes to show the two completely different mindsets about the game, and two completely different ways to approach parent-child relationships. One plays with their kids even if it’s video games, the other refuses to even let them anywhere near a cell phone or a game console. It’s no secret that the news are usually reporting on the negative side of the app, though some news stories have popped up recently, showing more of the positive sides. The old man’s sign on my previous Pokémon Go article just shows that when someone hates something with a passion and refuses to understand the appeal, they’ll just close themselves off and refuse any argumentation. That’s not how life works; you need to at least try to understand what you’re so vehemently against, so that you can have legitimate reasons to dislike it and not base yourself solely on hearsay and the fun of hating on something popular.

Not that there aren’t already plenty of reasons to hate on Pokémon Go based on the app and the company themselves, excluding anything related to the stupidity shown by some who are playing…