Pokémon pros and cons

Pokémon Go was released this month, taking the game to the great outdoors with an application for smart phones

Love it or loathe it, Pokémon Go has arrived.

For folks like me, who have been entirely unaware of the video game developed by a Japanese consortium in 1995, Pokémon is centred on fictional creatures called “Pokémon,” which game players catch and train to battle each other for sport.

Pokémon Go was released this month, taking the game to the great outdoors with an application for smart phones.

Players are invited go outside and travel between the real world and the virtual world, discovering Pokémon in their own communities.

As players move around, their smartphones vibrate to let them know they’re near a Pokémon. They then take aim on their phone’s touch screen and throw a Poké Ball to catch it.

Like many new things, Pokémon Go has stirred up controversy.

Fans buy into the company’s contention that at least people are dragging themselves away from their TVs and computers, getting exercise and learning about their own communities – and finding Pokéstops at local landmarks.

How far players have to walk before they find a Pokéstop or Pokémon depends on how far away they are from said items and locations.

Exercise aside, other folks are simply not interested – me included. I have a dog that accompanies me on walks and I prefer the natural world in actual reality.

My philosophy is to each his own. I am perfectly happy without Pokémon Go, but certainly don’t begrudge others their enjoyment of the game. Even a UBC psychologist is not only a big fan,  in a televised news item, was excited when she caught one of the little critters in Vancouver.

A story out of the U.S. notes an animal shelter in Illinois is successfully renting out dogs to walkers who don’t want the world to know they are playing the game. Apparently their ruse has been so successful, they have been able to waive adoption fees.  I’m told a Canadian shelter did the same thing.

On a much more serious note, another story on the Internet says a Syrian opposition group is trying to use the popularity of Pokémon Go to draw attention to the more than 14,000 children who have been killed in Syria so far, and the millions more still in the country. Photos posted on Twitter show children holding pictures of Pokémon, at a location in Syria, and the message: “Come save me.”

There are, I suppose, good reasons to play Pokémon Go, but the game is not for everyone. Nor is it acceptable for players to disregard other people’s property or, God forbid, play while driving or crossing roads.  Serious accidents have already occurred and complaints have been aired about the completely unacceptable location of some Pokéstops, such as Auschwitz, cemeteries and hospitals.

Play and enjoy if you will, but do respect others and keep your feet planted in reality.