POKEMON GO, the ‘augmented reality’ cultural phenomenon that is sweeping the globe and introducing previously sedentary gamers to the twin horrors of sunlight and physical exercise, has finally been launched in Spain.
Even the most reclusive of players may now be lured from their snack-laden hobbit holes to hunt and train Pokemon, in order to join a craze which has seen millions take to the streets and interact with the invisible dinosaurs, birds, rats, snakes, dragons, and other critters that now infest our towns and cities.
The game uses your smartphone’s GPS and clock to make Pokemon “appear” around you, with the aim to travel around the real world nabbing the colourful blobs before training them, building up their strength and enabling them to fight each other.
Once the dust has settled and the novelty worn off, perhaps the millions of Pokemon Go addicts may slowly come to realise that they have essentially signed up for Skynet, since the invasive app tracks your location, has access to your camera and personal information, plus the game’s developers are allegedly able to “disclose any information about you” to “government or law enforcement officials or private parties.”
More disturbing still is the speed at which the game has become a global phenomenon, as it has already overtaken Twitter in the US, with increasing evidence that the artificial intelligence herein referred to as ‘Pokenet’ does not pander to the pathetic ideals of morality or human life.
In just 10 days, we’ve witnessed reports that a gang of armed ruffians was lurking near a ‘Pokestop’ in a secluded location to target players, a woman in Wyoming stumbled across a corpse while attempting to collect an aquatic Pokemon from a river, while several people have ended up in hospital after pursuing the virtual creatures into inaccessible or hazardous spots.
The fiendish Pokemon have also been popping up in all sorts of utterly inappropriate places, including coffins at funerals, military cemeteries, restricted areas of hospitals, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, leading the latter to release a statement pleading with users to stop, since it considers playing the game inside a memorial to victims of Nazism “extremely inappropriate.”
Professional people are even quitting their jobs to set themselves up as Pokenet trainers, while in South Korea fans of the all-encompassing app have left behind their jobs and families to flock to a remote city on the North Korean border due to Google mapping security restrictions in the country.
It is an obsession that many say has taken over their lives, and for which a few are clearly willing to sacrifice their bodies, with the compellingly immersive play blurring reality and fantasy in such a way that can also be confusing for some, as one report mentions a pair of Pokemon Go players stood in the middle of a pedestrian path, gazing earnestly through their screens at a real bird.
“I wonder what it’s combat power is?” one apparently asked.