If you haven’t heard of Pokémon Go, you’re either living under a rock or have successfully learned to live off the grid. If the latter is the case, I really hope it’s in a beautiful tropical location with drinks on the beach and a pet parrot named Rad Charlie. That would be awesome. Alas, if you’re reading this, that’s probably not the case.
As someone who does a lot of social media thanks to my job, I’ve seen the cascading waterfall of articles, news reports, blog posts, memes, and general status updates about Pokémon Go. There’s a lot of hostility out there, mostly from people who have never played Pokémon or don’t understand the culture behind it. But there’s also a lot of love.
I admit it, I’m a grown woman, and I play Pokémon Go. Do I trek across Wilmington looking for whatever rare Pokémon I can find? No. But when I’m in a waiting room or walking around my neighborhood, I’ll pull out my phone and see what’s around. Believe me, it’s a good bit of motivation to keep going a tad bit further when all I want to do is plop down all this extra weight I’m carrying for Baby #2.
With that said, I have experience with this game, and I have multiple people in my family who play as well. That’s why so many of the Pokémon Go issues that have arisen have me scratching my head, especially those concerning homeowners.
Trespassing? Players knocking on doors asking to go inside or in the back yard? Hanging out in neighborhood parks all night?
The developer of Pokémon Go, Niantic, has made it possible to walk down the street, just as anyone would walking their dog or taking a jog, and get a multitude of Pokémon. Players can initiate interactions with Pokémon from 50+ feet away. There are a TON of Pokéstops and plenty of gyms to choose from. There’s no need to bother anyone, break laws, or trespass on private property. But why are homeowners having to deal with this?
Lack of self-control and guidance. People are becoming obsessed with catching them all. Why? First, the concept is simple and rewarding, even if it is superficial. Second, the game is free…for the most part. Yes, there is a shop for buying things, but you don’t need to in order to play. Mix those two factors with the fact that most people have a smartphone nowadays and you get the perfect outlet for people trying to deal with all the ugliness that’s been happening in the world (terrorism, politics, death…).
People want to blame Niantic for the negative things that have followed the game, but this isn’t the first augmented-reality massively multiplayer online location-based game. It’s just been the most anticipated and adopted. When Ingress, a similar game, launched, we didn’t see all of these reports of crime and negligence and, guess what, it was created by the same company. But Pokémon has years of users to draw from. It was created in 1995 and has been produced as video games, card games, cartoons, and more, so it has touched many people’s lives. The only argument I can see is that they could have released more detailed instructions for the game instead of making everyone guess its limits.
However, the true fault falls on the user. Too many adults don’t know when to stop and withdraw from the augmented reality. They’re incapable of reminding themselves that there will always be another opportunity, another time and place to catch that Pokémon. There’s no need to play while driving or to go on private property. Most importantly, the app can be turned off and returned to later.
It’s also a problem that a massive chunk of users are young people who either lack the parenting or life experiences to know better, like understanding that sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to hunt in their neighbor’s back yard could get them shot. But this is just another learning curve, sadly one that everyone is being forced to ride out together.
It’s important as a society that we realize this isn’t going to be the last game of this kind. There will be more technological marvels that will push our collective tolerance. There have and always will be people who lack common sense or purposely try to cause trouble for others. That’s part of the human species. Just wait until the virtual reality consoles are released in full force. It’s this same group of people who will face health issues when they can’t stop playing long enough to supplement basic biological needs or try to con others out of money while playing the games. It’s a sad fact, but something we can protect ourselves against if we all admit the threat is there.
As for homeowners, they should be reassured that, like many other fads, interest in this one will die down. Until that happens, they should be proactive. They should think before reacting and call the police if someone is trespassing, including in neighborhood parks, which often close at dusk or a posted time in the Wilmington area. Include the HOA or neighborhood watch in keeping people aware of rules for nearby Pokéstops and hunting. Not everyone may be familiar with how the game works, parents included.
Like every other website, app, and game, there are unintended glitches and consequences when they launch. There’s ALWAYS issues to work out and Niantic will address the serious ones. There’s too much public pressure not to. Pokéstops were determined by a massive algorithm they thought was sufficient for its purpose. They will likely honor requests to have specific locations removed, but it will take time.
Until then, everyone should keep in mind the root of why this game is so popular, even if it’s not something they understand or particularly care for, and remember that it has brought about positive change by making people exercise and visit local landmarks. It’s even brought patrons to local businesses that have Pokéstops or Pokégyms nearby. Nothing too serious has yet happened in Wilmington, but a little bit of understanding could prevent serious problems down the road.
Finally, a little bit of real estate humor to send your way thanks to the folks at The Lighter Side of Real Estate: