The Debate About Pokemon Go

Pikachu and Mewtwo, where are you? I'll be honest, I couldn't tell the difference between Eevee and Pinsir, but Pokemon GO is such a phenomenon, it has grabbed even my attention.  I'm one of the seemingly few people who hasn't played it, but it's worth discussing its pop culture impact.

Maybe some of you have been "off the grid" for the past few weeks and haven't heard about this latest gaming trend. Pokemon GO is a new app that has taken the world by storm. It taps into the nostalgia crowd by rejuvenating the Japanese game from the 1990s in which players had to find, capture, and battle with cute "pocket monsters." Its use of augmented reality has also attracted a new generation of fans and has been called a "game changer" for the technology.

The obvious positive side of this whole fad is that it's encouraging players to move and go outdoors. Users have to explore their surroundings (albeit through the lens of their smartphones) to discover if any Pokemon creatures are lurking around, ready to be caught. Some locations are "gyms," where they can train and do battle.

The bad side is what critics call another example of people seeing life through an app and not enjoying nature on the merit of their own senses alone. Are we amusing ourselves to death? Reports have emerged of some people being injured while playing, because they had tunnel vision and weren't aware of any danger nearby. Of course, exaggerated claims of dramatic deaths also become fodder for hoaxes that went viral.

A more serious concern was when visitors to somber places like the Holocaust Museum or the 9/11 Memorial were inappropriately playing the game. To which I join the chorus of criticism saying, "Common sense, people."

This is just the beginning of the evolution of augmented reality. Who knows what new iterations will emerge, both in gaming and other more serious applications.