As most people have seen, Pokémon Go is everywhere. Literally everywhere. It was released less than 2 weeks ago, and it is one of the fastest-growing games or apps out there. Within days, people were posting about it. Just walking outside, you could see the extent this game has grown. I have been sitting back gathering my thoughts while seeing all the articles and posts pouring out about this game-both positive and negative. The people who love it really love it, and the people who don’t really seem to hate it. And it is completely okay if you don’t like it. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, I get that.
The issue I have been having is observing the shaming that comes from certain individuals out there who seem to despise it. I’ve seen various posts from people calling individuals who play it “losers,” “stupid” and “immature.” It bothers me because…seriously, it’s just a game. As long as someone is not hurting themselves, others, or another person’s property, who cares? There are so many other “useless” things in the world that people focus on all the time (i.e. the Kardashians). Millions of people throw parties and watch the Super Bowl every year, and although it’s a sport, it’s also a game. No one shames these people.
I wanted to write this because I think Pokémon Go has many benefits for people with mental health issues, such as depression, agoraphobia, autism, and many more. For people who struggle with getting outside, interacting with others, socializing, and communicating, this game has helped motivate and connect people in the real world. It has brought people out of their homes who have struggled to come out for weeks, maybe even months. It has gotten fellow geeks and nerds to come out and socialize and connect, which can often be a struggle for people in those cultures. Not only that, it incorporates physical activity which most games do not do.
I’ve seen so much criticism from people about gaming and how it has caused tons of children and teens to stay indoors and not participate in socializing or physical exercise. I believe Pokémon Go is the beginning of starting to bridge the gap of new technology and culture with positive health and wellness practices. I know some people are just going to say, “it’s just a game.” Yes, it is. But I can see so many wonderful ideas and concepts grow out of this game. I see more games incorporating physical exercise and movement. I think it is a good foundation for getting people to go outside and connect with others. I hope that there can be more interaction with other players in the future to help increase the connection aspect of the game.
So really, I’m not writing this to convince anyone to play. It’s okay if you don’t personally care for it. But I really hope we can stop with the shaming and let people enjoy themselves and the wonderful benefits they get from playing. If this is something that brings a little bit of joy or connection for someone, I think that is a great thing. There is no need to call people stupid or immature. A lot of the people that are playing and struggle with mental health issues have already struggled enough with social pressures and low self-esteem. Please don’t be another bully in their life.
One last thing: It is your responsibility to make sure you are playing in a safe manner. Just like anything else that is distracting your attention, you need to be mindful of your surroundings and definitely should never be driving or operating heavy machinery. Happy Gaming!
Here are some helpful articles about Pokémon Go: