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Should You Go Out Hunting For Monsters? - Society
Should You Go Out Hunting For Monsters? - Society

Pokemon GO conquered the world in a matter of hours. What is the secret of the new game's success? Is it good that millions of people are ready to catch "pocket monsters" day and night long? Let's look at Pokémon from the point of view of a psychologist.

Games are perhaps the oldest human cultural activity, and Pokemon GO is certainly a cultural phenomenon, and of a grand scale.

At first glance, the game is nothing new. Niantic, founded by veterans of Google, released Ingress, a sci-fi game five years ago. This game is based on maps, points of interest around the world and Augmented Reality technology. Although at some times the number of players reached a million, the game remained little known.

Pokemon GO is based on part of the architecture of this game, but in a short time has won tens of millions of users around the world. On the other hand, there is nothing new in "Pokemon" either: they appeared 20 years ago, and already had their loyal audience.

What is new and unusual in this cultural phenomenon?

The first is a completely unexpected success, even for the creators. Back in June, the founder of the company talked about how they think about using the game to promote the brands of large companies. That is, when instead of Pokemon, people would look for some artifacts of a well-known brand, and could receive discounts and gifts. But the case ordered otherwise and the overwhelming success still crashes the server. This is an example of the fact that we cannot predict even the very near future. Nobody imagined that the summer of 2016 would see such a good Black Swan * change the way we think about gaming.

Therefore, we should remember that tomorrow something may appear that we cannot even suspect today, and this is normal. Our task is to perceive this reasonably, without prejudice.

Some people see in the game conspiracies of the American special services, the tricks of the devil, and so on. These are common signs of inert thinking, greed and selfishness. Don't be like that. See the game with different eyes

For example, the wife of the President of the United States, Michelle Obama, runs the Let's Move! (Let's get moving!) To increase the physical activity of children and thus reduce the obesity rate in the country. Pokémon in a week did what she had been striving for for years. People of all ages began to notice that they began to move more. As one player wrote, "My dog is happy, but does not understand why we suddenly began to walk twice as often and longer." Walking is a prerequisite for hatching eggs, one of the methods of acquiring rare Pokémon.

Walking, people get to know better the place in which they live. Pokemon training and battles take place, as a rule, in remarkable central locations, and pokemon replenishment points (pokestop) are located in interesting public, and often unexpected places: in parks, near playgrounds, near churches, beautiful flower beds. All of these locations have been carefully selected by players over the years, much like wikipedia is written. People say they have found many interesting places near their home that they did not know existed.

Green spaces relieve our stress, lower crime rates, and generally make us healthier, kinder, and happier. This has been proven by psychological research many times. Seducing people to go out into nature and parks more is one of the tasks of a normal society. Pokémon have brought more people to the parks than all such programs in recent years! Of course, some rare Pokémon love parks too.

Pokemon GO amazingly connects reality with the fictional world. It is somewhat similar to the children's game "Cossacks-robbers" - when suddenly the familiar look of your yard and everything around turns into a new world of adventure

Looking at the station in a small town near Moscow, where I spent the last week, now I will always "see" where there is a tower for training Pokémon, invisible, but quite "real". There, the Pokémon I fostered fought until they lost consciousness with another team and won. And next to the tower, at the monument to the soldier with the eternal flame - pokestop; and I don't see anything wrong with such a neighborhood.

But perhaps the main thing is the social side of the game. Players, or as they are called in the game, "trainers" of Pokémon, come to the places of the game and unmistakably see other fans of the same kind. What other reason is needed to smile at each other and get to know each other, share the tricks of the game, brag about victories or rare trophies?

The internet is full of stories about how wonderful people have made friends, solely thanks to Pokémon. Some begin to talk for the first time with their neighbors, with whom they have lived silently for many years, others meet old acquaintances, and still others have a spark of love. Almost everyone says they feel like children again. Someone said that it was like the 50s, when everything was simpler, kinder and brighter, someone compared it to the enthusiasm that gripped people after the demolition of the Berlin Wall.

Tell me something else in our world that is doing this to people now? Think, what kind of person do you have to be to see the bad in this and try to prohibit it? Any Pokemon looks cute by comparison. Be sure to give the game a try, and good luck catching Jigglipuff!


* is a term meaning an unexpected and unpredictable event that changes the order of things. This theory is discussed in the book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb "Black Swan. Under the sign of unpredictability."

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