3 Ways No One Cares You Don’t Like Pokémon Go
It had to happen. Whenever something achieves widespread popularity, then like a bouncy flower girl trailing the bridal party with a basket of dead bunnies, Internet grouches come along to dump on it. Smug counterculture hipsters, pursed-lip Baby Boomers, and self-righteous white knights can’t wait to poke holes in what other people so caustically enjoy without the requisite tax of shame or guilt. As soon as Pokémon Go attained its already-legendary level of fame, so came these self-appointed tax collectors, grimly set on tilting at windmills in defense of the displaced air.
1) “Adults Shouldn’t Be Playing A Kid’s Game”
The first clue I got that the hate train was rolling into the station, complaining bitterly the whole way, was the collective outrage over adults playing a “kid’s game.” The funny thing is, I feel a little bad for the young’uns playing this game; they’ve got to pester their poor parents for a ride beyond their front yard. It’s really the grown-ups reaping the benefits of this app. Besides the fun of stopping in at cafes or other hangouts while trolling for Pokémon downtown, we’ve got the benefit of re-catching the original 151. It’s a hell of a nostalgia trip among Millennials.
But that’s not enough for snobs determined to piss in other peoples’ Cheerios. I’m sure you’ve already experienced your own version of these types, narcissists so self-involved they can’t stand to see people having fun they themselves aren’t having. But since I can’t quote your Uncle Charlie from Facebook and his specific brand of smug superiority, I’ll go with a general model: some jerk from far-left magazine the Jacobin.
The guy starts broad, talking about geek culture in general and how it demands we “act with the rapacious glee of a small child:”
Any other mode of engagement is tacitly forbidden. Look at the fury of the fans when someone tries to approach mass culture with any critical judgement. Why are you being so serious about this, so pretentious; it’s just a film or a game, it’s meaningless — but at the same time, how dare you, you’re ruining my fun.
Okay, you know what? He has a point so far. Remember how a lot of Batman fans lost their shit when any reviewer for The Dark Knight Rises didn’t enthusiastically bury their face in its ass? Sometimes geek culture, especially online geek culture, can get pretty hairy. Maybe I judged you wrong, Jacobin guy. Heck, I think we could actually have an interesting discussion on-
For many critics, we’re living out an apocalyptic scenario. This is about Pokémon Go, of course it’s about Pokémon Go — how else could you describe a world in grown adults in their millions are milling about aimlessly, staring at their phones, collecting digital rats, reliving a stupid childhood, and shrinking all the while into inattentive sugar-zapped brats?
Wow. Well, nevermind.
It really is incredible to me that people in 2016 still cling to this attitude. How in the world can you have such strong feelings about harmless ways adults spend their own leisure time? “Ugh, they’re just playing games.” You mean like baseball? Football? Basketball? These are all children’s activities which continue to fascinate people into adulthood, but I don’t see any snooty self-appointed Culture Guardians talking down to Braves fans.
You know what other kinds of critics I don’t see? I don’t see anyone looking down their noses at men who don’t wear hats. Or women who go out (gasp)… unchaperoned.
Every generation, the crotchety snobs throw shade at whatever new shit the young people are trying. So those people who hated men who didn’t wear hats and women who went out unchaperoned and about a hundred other things over centuries it has never been worth their time to hate, they used to exist. But let me you a story: they died. And there was no one to replace them because everyone was too busy having fun doing that shit they hated. The end.
2) “Pokémon Go Sucks Money Out Of The Community!”
Then there is this truly insipid Vox article with the almost self-parodying title, “Pokémon Go is everything that is wrong with late capitalism.” In short, the author is bewailing the game’s microtransactions and the loss of revenue to local economies he claims it represents.
These were all activities that involved spending a certain amount of money in the local economy. That created opportunities for adults in your town to start and run small businesses. It also meant that a teenager who wanted to find a summer job could find one waiting tables or taking tickets at the movie theater.
You can spend money on Pokémon Go too. But the economics of the game are very different. When you spend money on items in the Pokémon Go world, it doesn’t go into the pocket of a local Pokémon entrepreneur — it goes into the pockets of the huge California- and Japan-based global companies that created Pokémon Go.
It’s an argument that makes some sense – until you look out a window. Since the app is a) a cultural phenomenon, and b) prompting people to travel around their area, more and more people are showing up at businesses in their area. How anyone could write a whole article on the economic mechanics of late-stage capitalism as embodied in Internet commerce and yadda yadda yadda, and then fail to consider foot traffic, is incredible to me.
Like, what restaurant have you been to that hasn’t seen an increase in customers? Do you live in the last city in America that doesn’t have a Pokémon Go bar crawl? If you are a small business owner and you are not seeing an increase in customers right now, here is a literal guide from Walter Chen at inc.com:
With $100 netting you 14,500 Pokecoins and an eight-pack of Lures costing 680 Pokecoins:
14,500 Pokecoins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour
All you have to do is:
- Tap the red Pokeball at the bottom of your HUD
- Tap “Shop”
- Scroll down and tap the purple, box-shaped Lures to purchase. You’ll re-direct to your app store’s payment system
- Once back in-app, tap the red Pokeball again, then tap “Items”
- Tap the purple Lure to activate!
For a little more than a dollar an hour, you can bring virtually guaranteed crowds to your business. The ROI here is ridiculous, so if your business is anywhere near a PokeStop, this is something you absolutely have to try.
Boom. If you own a small business, I just made you more money than I will ever see from this web-site.
3) “Not Every Person on Earth Can Play Pokémon Go!”
We end with this persnickety diatribe from Daily Dot. In it, the author criticizes Nintendo and game developer Niantic for negligently excluding disabled gamers from the Pokémon Go phenomenon. To be clear: Pokémon Go, which is wildly successful as a direct result of forcing people to move around, is being attacked for forcing people to move around.
That’s strong enough objective evidence to make the old adage, “you can’t make everyone happy,” a scientific goddamn law.
After years of bitter thought pieces about how kids don’t move around any more, they’re just sitting in front of the TV and the computer, finally here comes one single walking-around game. One, among thousands and thousands of sitting-on-your-ass games. And within a week, we have a bitter thought piece saying well what about kids who can’t walk around. I mean, are you for real?
To be fair, Kotaku posted a similar article which emphasized the handicapped’s sense of isolation while a cultural phenomenon swirls around them. It’s not as if that issue doesn’t deserve any attention. I hope people who read that article and know disabled gamers take it upon themselves to offer a hand. But to take issue with the game developer itself, as if they are culpable for some kind of pain and suffering by way of negligence, is just inane.
You might as well criticize hockey for being inaccessible to people who can’t ice-skate. If you love hockey and you’re disabled, then I sympathize with you because that’s a bummer. But if you’re showing up to NHL games with snow skiis rigged up to your wheelchair just demanding you be allowed to play, well…then that is actually pretty badass. You have my full support if you do that. So here’s a better example: I’m 5’8.” Do I get to slam basketball for putting me at a disadvantage?
A blogger quoted liberally in the article at one point insists that the game should have had options for the less able-bodied. “‘One I can think of off the top of my head would be an integration with Google Street View that would allow players to take a virtual walk to look for Pokémon and hit up Pokéstops and gyms.'”
If you haven’t played this game, you might not know why this is such a dumb idea that it actually sets back dumb ideas by years. So let me break the game down for you: you go places. That’s 90% of what you do. When you get to the places, you tap the stuff. That’s the other 10%. The app is effectively Google Maps where most of the destinations (the Pokémon) are secret. If you disable the necessity for going places, the game almost literally has nothing left.
Nevermind that nearly the entirety of the video game library across all systems can already be played sitting down. Nevermind that health experts are praising the game for getting infamously indolent gamers on their feet. And nevermind that the same feature Daily Dot is denigrating is proving beneficial for kids facing another kind of difficulty in autism. Forget all that; Daily Dot wants the 3 millionth couch potato game.
Hey, tearfully grateful mom whose autistic child is voluntarily socializing for the first time in his life: too bad, professional hand-wringers would prefer he was still firmly inside his comfort zone playing Pokémon Meh on the couch. Because literally the only thing which meaningfully incentivizes your child to break his cripplingly limiting routine is not completely accessible for kids who have thousands and thousands of other options.
I’ve been harsh in this article, maybe too harsh. But hey, I’m an Internet writer. It’s basically my job to rile you up and add some sparkle to your lunch break.
I’ll just say this: all the things have been shitty for a long time. The news is nothing but shit, we have a shit election coming up, everything is sad and terrible and getting worse and people have spent a solid goddamn year screaming at each other over a fucking Ghostbusters movie. So when something honestly good happens, and everyone’s going outside and meeting new people and having a nice time, how about you just let them have this one?
And if you’re a Pokémon Go player, I just want to say: fuck these snobs. Get out there and catch some Pokémon. And if you see anybody judging you, do your best to catch a Jigglypuff right off their smug, judgey face.