And so it begins, news reports yesterday and today are telling gamers that train firms and ‘utilities’ companies in Japan are seeking for their sites to be rid of Pokémon characters, and thus hordes of gamers hunting them down.
According to an article in The Mainichi (July 27, 2016), in all, 23 rail operators made a request on Tuesday, in writing, to Niantic Inc. (primary producer of the game), for characters not to appear on platforms and tracks. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.), operator of nuclear power plants, made a similar request.
This is on the back of news that characters from Pokémon Go have been appearing in the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini power plants (Forbes). Wonderful!
Back to the article in The Mainichi, the local government of Nagasaki has also had its hand forced, asking Niantic to remove characters from the Nagasaki Peace Park, a site paying tribute to victims of the 1945 atomic bombing by the US. Hiroshima may follow suit after a city official there claimed that battle locations for the game were found near the A-Bomb Dome and other locations within the Peace Memorial Park.
It’s at this point that we put ourselves in the position of the gamers. Which will take on greater importance for them? Respecting the solemnity of those lost in battle, or scoring points on Pokémon Go? Staying out of a nuclear ‘no go’ zone, or .. scoring points on Pokémon Go? Obviously, we know what we hope the answer would be, but we just can’t be sure. What would you do? Be honest now.
All of this raises questions about how far society will tolerate the game, and those playing it. It reminds one of Tamagotchi (たまごっち), those handheld digital ‘pets’ that boomed in the late 90s. Back home, such was the propensity for people to drop everything in order to feed a ‘pet’ that doesn’t actually need feeding (and doesn’t exist), schools eventually had to bring in a blanket ban on the pocket bleaters. When we consider, though, that students of a certain age in Japan aren’t even allowed to wear watches to school, we can perhaps be assured that Pokémon Go won’t be spotted in classrooms over here. Or maybe Niantic will need a written request in order to grant that assurance?
When this writer first caught wiff of the looming übermass that Pokémon Go would become, I can hand on heart say that the first thing I thought of was the ‘selfie’ stick. It’s something that seems quite humble in comparison now. It wasn’t long ago however, that the psychotically annoying, narcissistic eye-gougers were de rigueur at anywhere that came close to a photo opp. Society called time on those though, with management of top ‘selfie’ locations joining the common-sense queue to get them banned. Now they seem to be the sole remit of over excited Asian school trippers, and anyone putting a ‘selfie stick’ selfie on Instagram these days, is quickly passed over for some mislead young thing straining to take a picture of their bottom in the bathroom mirror.
It seems certain, and right, that Pokémon Go will be subject to further polite requests to use common sense and/or outright bans, similar to the Tamagotchi and the selfie stick. We’ll have to wait and see what power the game has over its players that they actually pay any attention to these. The ultimate test of endurance though, will be how quickly we get bored of it, and how quickly someone else can come up with something new. For now, though, Pokémon Go seems to be a lot of fun for the players, and a clammy nightmare for management types!
Can you think of anything else similar to Tamagotchi and selfie sticks, that might be said to have become a bit of a nuisance? Drop your suggestions below.