Several weeks ago, outgoing NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton had a few harsh things to say regarding the hit mobile game, Pokémon GO, and those who play it. For the uninitiated, Pokémon GO is a free GPS-based game which can be downloaded to smartphones, and primarily consists of the player walking around their neighborhoods to virtually “catch” fictional creatures called Pokémon. The Pokémon series itself has been around for decades. First released in Japan in 1996, it has since spawned multiple video game sequels, a TV cartoon show which is running to this day consisting of over nine hundred episodes, nineteen films, and innumerable collectibles.
While millions of people have used the game worldwide there have been a number of harrowing incidents during play that have been reported. Examples include a teenager discovering a dead body while hunting for Pokémon, and unsuspecting gamers being robbed at real-life landmarks – the game calls them “Pokéstops” – by criminals who took advantage of features of the game.
Bratton had a few things to say about the game which were less than kind calling it “one of the stupidest crazes I’ve ever seen,” and claiming that “people are putting themselves at great risk, being lured into certain neighborhoods that they have no knowledge of [sic] and subjecting themselves to potentially being victims of crime.”
While these concerns are valid, a few simple safety measures injected with some common sense can keep you free from harm on your journeys, like exploring new neighborhoods with groups of people instead of going solo, only going out in the daytime (Pokémon have to sleep too!), and doing some research on areas beforehand. Does the area have a lot of crime? How close is public transportation to where you will be going? How well-lit are the neighborhoods you will be visiting?
Police departments nationwide have been posting handy tips such as these, and by following them you can have a safe and fun Pokémon journey. Staff of the Berry, even ones who were not interested in the franchise previously, have been playing Pokémon GO and enjoying the thrill of the hunt.
Bill Bratton may not like Pokémon GO, but the rest of the world seems to. Local businesses are reaping the benefits of those seeking to Catch ‘em All. Pokéstops can have items called Lures placed on them, which bring more Pokémon to that area. Businesses can request that Pokéstops be placed nearby in order to attract more customers to their locations. Pokéstops placed at historic landmarks can also entice players to explore locations that they have previously never considered visiting before, and point out interesting features of familiar places which may have previously gone unnoticed.
It can, in fact, be educational. Perhaps the biggest advantage to games like Pokémon GO is that it burns calories. You actually have to walk around a lot in order to play it, making it different from traditional video games where the player remains sedentary.
Safety is an important consideration when planning your next quest for a Vaporeon, but as long as you plan accordingly and avoid risking any harm, Pokémon GO is just about the most fun you can have with your phone and the city. Bratton doesn’t have to like the game, but he should know that this is one of many millennials’ childhood fantasies realized and brought to life. Next time he goes on record about this game he should learn how to say it correctly though – it’s “PokéMON” not “PokéMAN”!