Most of us have seen it! People who walk looking at their phone, making a motion with their hand and then either erupt in celebration or begin to swear. And if by any chance you have missed this, well then we have heard about it: Pokémon Go. A game which has taken the world by storm. Pokémon Go is a game for the smartphone, where the virtual world meets the real world.
The uniqueness of Pokémon Go will disappear – no doubt about that, and after a while it will only be the hardcore gamers left. But what effect has this game had during its high period? And will we be able to learn anything new? As long as the world become more stationary the innovative thinkers will always have to rethink how to get people out and moving. What effect did the game have? Did it get people to move more? Did they do it because they wanted to or felt forced to? What made people play the game?
From an anthropological viewpoint, this is simply what Bruno Latour calls Actor-Network Theory. It is a bit provocative and many won’t like to admit it – but a phone is making us do something. It makes us go for a walk to catch creatures in the real world: it is simple a game on your phone making you do something that you otherwise would not have done.
The screen of the phone is the gateway between the virtual and the real world and connects it by placing the Pokémons around you. You look at the kitchen table – nothing – you look through your screen and BAM – there is a Pokémon! And if you walk another 700 m then there will be a Pokémon stop – so a short walk can suddenly turn out to be 5 km long walk.
Furthermore it adds social aspects– people can meet at the Pokémon stops and create new societies with Pokémon as the central theme.
When gaming on a computer, you are usually sitting in front of a computer. However, when playing Pokémon Go you, as a player, are playing the game in the real world. This means that you bring the virtual world into the real world and make them interact with each other. This interaction between the two worlds has brought some conflicts along the way. But why is that? I simply believe that some people have not been ready for the meeting between the two worlds! The virtual and the real world have always been two completely different things, but now within the framework of technology it is possible to connect them.
When the “Pokémon Go Wave” was at its highest, you would see messages on social media pointing to Pokémon Go players. They were reminding them not to break into each other’s apartments, show respect to the dead in graveyards etc. Pretty much – remember there is law! This is exactly how I got my inspiration for this article after seeing a photo on Facebook saying: Respect the dead! Please catch your Pokémon somewhere else and let people rest in peace.
According to me, this is a clear clash between two worlds. A person playing on a graveyard goes against every ethical rule in the real world. You’re not allowed to have fun on a graveyard – there is an unwritten, accepted behavior when walking among graves. But why is that? I think that the virtual world still lacks some rules that exist in the real world. People believe they can get away with everything in the virtual world – but with gaming now being a part of the real world, all behavior matters and has an impact. It is no longer possible to hide behind a screen. When playing World of Warcraft it is legal to kill in that world! – however, if you do that in the real world you will be arrested.
Rules and laws are a guide of accepted behavior in a society existing to create the least chaos possible. When living together, clashes will arise – but laws, rules and guidelines help decrease clashes within out society.
In Denmark there are clear rules stating that you should not use your phone while driving. But one driver got himself killed in a car accident since he was playing Pokémon Go while driving his car. Is this simply stupidity or a good example of a general trend ? As I see it, we have not yet adapted to this new possibility of connecting the virtual world to the real world and clashes occur when people forget that they are still in the real world.
Another interesting thought is how well people have accepted the game and have accepted Pokémon in our real world. Would the game have been just as popular, and would the connection between the worlds have been the same big hit, if it was a shooting game such as GTA, which was introduced as a link between the two worlds or was “Pokémon Go” a hit because it is small fantasy animals walking around us in the real world?
This development will definitely be interesting to follow in the near future!
by Marie Søndergaard
Proofread by Glenn Jeffries