Less than half a week after its release, reports Buzzfeed, Pokemon GO is proving to be dangerously addictive on the level of some illegal substances.
As anyone even tangentially interested in the Pokemon gaming universe knows, Pokemon GO, the augmented reality Pokemon mobile phone app, has been released in the Android and iOS app stores in Japan, Australia, and the US.
Pokemon GO is pretty awesome, placing Pokemon in real locations around the physical world, which it can interact with by referencing satellite readings of the trainer and their surroundings. It inspires players to get outside and explore the great outdoors, actually giving them a purpose to do so. Pokemon GO gets a lot of gamers — and people from all walks of life — who normally wouldn’t spend much time walking around on this beautiful Earth and getting out of their chairs and into nature, and Pokemon GO developer company Niantic, as well as The Pokemon Company themselves, definitely deserve some applause for that.
One such person is Adam Rida, an Australian trainer who talked to Buzzfeed.
“I went out for a walk at 9pm with a good friend to catch Pokemon because of Pokemon GO.”
Sounds lovely, right? Pokemon really is coming through on one of the franchise’s mantras of bringing friends closer together.
“My mother jokingly thought that I was trying to get drugs because she knows I hate walking that much,” Frida continued.
Adam’s mother was just joking with her analogy, but it actually hits uncomfortably close to home for some Pokemon GO users. Some trainers are beginning to take their quests to be the very best (like no one ever was) a little too far, letting their Pokemon journeys detract from their social and professional lives or, in some cases, their safety.
Perhaps the most prolific cause of this growing obsession is how addictive, by nature, Pokemon GO is. As Thrillist points out, the Pokemon game formula is already extremely addictive, giving you a time-consuming but attainable goal (catching them all) and ensconcing you in a world of awe-inspiring — and extremely customizable — creatures that you grow to know and love as your journey through the expansive world progresses.
It is also a well-documented fact that a well-constructed mobile phone game is extraordinarily addictive, and including microtransactions, which – surprise surprise – Pokemon GO has done, only increases that addictiveness factor.
Bring those two addictive formulas together and add in that Pokemon GO utilizes a cutting-edge technology for mobile devices (augmented reality), and you have an insanely hooking experience.
Pokémon Go Addict.— F A D (@_iFad) July 8, 2016
Bela2in panas2an ke Taman Menteng buat hunting Pokémon :)) pic.twitter.com/p985z4buFU
“It’s taking over my life,” said Richie Cartmell, another Aussie trainer, in reference to Pokemon GO. “Yesterday instead of taking a lunch break I just walked around catching Pokémon for 30 minutes.”
“Then I purposefully missed my train so I could walk around Flagstaff gardens and get more Pokémon. Then I went for a 25-minute walk in the rain as there weren’t any Pokémon around my house and I needed to level up and get some more poké balls from the landmarks.”
Cartmell and many other trainers who have spoken to online publications have let Pokemon GO suck up large amounts of their time and may have risked catching a flu for it, but Richie continues that even he draws the line at driving his car while playing, explaining that “I’d crash if I spotted [a Pokémon].”
That brings up the main reason being addicted to Pokemon GO in particular is dangerous. Since the game requires you to move around the actual world but also encourages players to engage with what’s going on onscreen, there is a definite possibility Pokemon GO trainers might attempt to do both at the same time. And although Cartmell doesn’t do so because he realizes it’s too dangerous, a lot of others can’t help themselves.
“Drive home from work I snagged 3 gyms and about 20 Pokestops all on my direct route home,” writes Facebook user Joe Mow. “Although I feel this is dangerous I saw a Scyther on the highway and really wanted to drive off the road to get it.”
Those who aren’t dangerous about their Pokemon GO obsessions are not safe, either, according to a tweet by Twitter user “Wren” (@wrentherapper).
“I was sitting in my parked car when a van hit it. He was playing #PokemonGO and didnt see me. I too was playing. This game will kill us all.”
The Australian Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services even posted a message on its Facebook a few days ago warning Pokemon GO players to stay alert of their surroundings while moving and playing. It appears people were getting hit by cars when crossing the street while playing.
And when the game is actually tempting people to break the law, you know they’ve gone entirely too far.
I want this Squirtle but I have to trespass in my neighbour's backyard. Hmm... #PokemonGO— Frank Li (@Chief_Sangy) July 6, 2016
Again, this article is not meant to negatively criticize Pokemon GO. It’s an awesome app that brings some incredible technology to the field and motivates even the laziest of Pokemon fans to get out into the surrounding world. It is a reminder to said fans, though, to be careful! Pokemon GO is indeed a powerful force, but with great power comes… you know the rest.
[Image via Pokemon/Youtube]