In July of 2016 Americans have received a fun new app that produces behaviors unlike any before. It causes people to gather at places, such as parks, in large groups, or causes them to wander around neighborhoods. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game created by the company Niantic, and is available for free on mobile phones. An article From USA Today features the parks and recreation director of Kimberly Point Park, Michael Kading who says “I have never seen anything like this” as he has trouble getting people out of the park at closing time. The app has caused a bit of controversy as many stories related to Pokemon Go appeared on the news just a few days after its release. The CNN reports that four armed men used a feature in the game called a PokeStop to rob people by luring unwitting players. Another story by this CNN article reports that a girl discovered a dead body in the river under Wyoming’s Big Wind River highway bridge.1 The girl admits “I probably would have never went down there if it weren't for this game”. In Massachusetts, Boon Sheridan’s own home was turned into a Pokemon gym.1 These Pokemon gyms entourage teams of players to battle against one another at that location. Sheridan watched as people would gather in his garden or block his driveway with their cars. He found this experience amusing, and has been tweeting about it whenever he meets a new player in his yard, but many other owners of private property have found trespassers a nuisance. What these news stories have in common is that ordinary people go to abnormal places in order to catch Pokemon or battle gyms in the game. This game seems to have created a shift in priorities that is giving people motivation to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. People who would ordinarily sit in their rooms for hours at a time suddenly get to motivation to walk, jog, bike, or partake in any form of exercise in order to hatch Pokemon eggs. People who ordinarily care for self preservation would be willing to walk through a sketchy neighborhood in order to reach a Pokemon lure. People who ordinarily are shy around strangers will meet other Pokemon Go players and strike up a conversation that might even lead to a new friendship, especially if they are on the same team. The excitement of the game combined with the interactions within a community of players creates a new and fun experience for anyone playing.
Quinn, Jasmine, "Identity of Pokemon Go Players: How Social Gaming Affects Behavior" (2016). Pop Culture Intersections. 19.