Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock we can safely say that almost anyone that reads this article will be aware of the Pokémon sensation, it’s spreading around the globe like wildfire causing bedlam in many places such as the recent near riot in Taiwan recently after a rare Pokémon (a Snorlax for those in the know) was sighted in its capital of Taipei.
A bit like Marmite however, you either love it or you hate it. Fans of the game rave about the pros of the game, such as the fact that the game rewards people for being active, this new genre of game called augmented reality gets people out of their armchair and outside which can only be healthy. Furthermore Pokémon encourages lengthy walks the hatch new Pokémon and a change of geographical location in order to find new types of Pokémon that aren’t all found in the same area.
What’s not really being talked about yet and I’m sure it will be soon is the fact that the game has used cultural centres as ‘pokestops’, i.e. focal points of the game where trainers, as players of the game have been called, are encouraged to congregate and collect rewards, taking a step further what the game perceives is even more important locations are ‘Poke gyms’, places for trainers to battle each other for rewards. Now the problem with this is that these cultural locations are often there for a reason other than people to play Pokémon.
Temples in Thailand are rapidly adding to the number of restrictions they currently give to visitors to the Buddhist temples and culturally important locations signs banning people from playing Pokémon at these sites as ever increasing numbers of both locals and foreigners walking around the temples staring through their phones hunting for elusive Pikachu’s as opposed to the gorgeously garish golden Buddha statues and figurines.
There was a recent incident at the Museum of contemporary Art in Sydney where a particularly avid Pokémon trainer was told to leave the museum after walking into a piece of artwork as he stared into his phone trying to catch one of the more unusual Pokémon often found in locations like this.
There may well be a backlash from concerned organisations but feel that these cultural centres such as Buddhist temples, museums and churches should not be the focal point in a town or city for players of the game to congregate and play the game as opposed to being there for the art or to worship.
However to further exemplify the mixed opinions and thoughts caused by the game, is said that Thailand has petitioned Niantic Inc, the San Francisco-based creators of this online phenomenon on to allocate rarer Pokémon to Thailand as a country in order to help combat some recent bad press they have had after a number of bombings and other serious events that have caused holidaymakers to shy away from this seemingly tropical Paradise.
I guess we have to sit back and wait to see what will happen with this phenomenon as we are led to believe by Niantic that this is just the beginning for the game and that there is a lot more in store.