Pokémon Go. Loved by old Pokémon players and the general public alike. Kind of. Why kind of? Because the only real draw of the game is that it is Pokémon, and most people’s first exposure to the world of augmented reality. It is simple, and has a massive fan base. Everyone either plays it, or knows what it is. To not have Pokémon Go is to be missing out.
There are some positives to the game. It brings random people of the public together, let’s them walk around and see someone doing the same, giving them a chance to ask, “Pokémon?”, to which the reply is a nod and a resounding, “Pokémon.” It gets people on their feet, walking around the real world and exploring places they haven’t really checked out before. The game has shown millions of people a concept (augmented reality), that they had no clue was even possible.
Despite all this, Pokémon Go is barely a game. It is riddled with bugs and server issues, poor decision making from the creators Niantic, that restrict player feedback to essentially zero, and terrible communication from Niantic to their player base. The people that defend the problems are fanatics. But these negatives are another story.
The impact that the Pokémon Go app has had on student life is undoubtedly immense. With several Pokestops around campus, students now have an incentive to walk around and explore their university. With the couple gyms in the area, they can battle for supremacy, glaring at people from other courses, from other years at the university. In essence, La Trobe feels like a tighter knit community.
It has also weighed heavily on actual classes too. There are a few buildings around campus that have rooms within range of Pokestops. People that would previously be on Facebook in class now just attach a lure to those stops and sit around swiping their screens. Whether this is a good or bad thing is debatable, as the people focusing on Pokémon would likely not be paying attention anyway, and have to focus less on Pokémon than Facebook, however it is still a distraction that is incredibly easy to be swayed by.
Similar to how the app works in public, if you see someone playing it in class, a simple question of “what team are you in?” is a great conversation starter. Those that were previously alone can find friends even easier now, and it’s hard to call something that encourages social interaction and exercise a bad thing.
By James Wallace