The Woes of Pokemon GO

Even as Pokemon GO continues to mobilise scores of recently reformed couch potatoes to go out and get healthy, some ironically funny (albeit concerning) trends have been emerging in the local scene.

For instance, one player was seemingly so intent on catching Pokemon, he got caught by the police. The man was crossing Plaza Singapura’s car park entrance while on the app when he got honked at by a driver, leading to an argument, actual fisticuffs and both their arrests. Who’s to blame? Everyone, frankly.

The quest to be the very best also reveals our innate ability to mess stuff up, as hundreds visited Yishun Park’s many Pokestops, leaving behind a ton of cans, bottles, and wrappers – 70 bags full – every night, forcing park cleaners to work till the wee hours to keep from drowning in mountains of rubbish.

Other players have created traffic woes while searching far and wide for Pokemon. A massive stream of jaywalkers inundated Hougang Avenue 10, endangering themselves and impeding traffic, right next to a zebra crossing. Car-based players have also caused ire – residents at Hougang, a popular Pokemon GO site, tried to get the police involved when they realised vehicles of players had completely filled all available parking spaces. Some drivers also parked their vehicles illegally in Yishun, even in front of traffic junctions where buses had to swerve around them.

Yes, arguably Pokemon GO has done some good – namely getting lazy people outside (since non-lazy people probably didn’t need a game to motivate them to go out), and generally lifting moods among otherwise bored players.

Even Pokemon stampedes that resemble zombie hoards arguably bring people of diverse backgrounds together through a common passion – to play Pokemon, while unwittingly menacing others.

Looking ahead, the game looks good to go with upcoming products like Pokemon GO Plus and Pokemon GO for the Apple Watch, despite the fact it has clearly passed its explosive zenith. Even as players strive to “be the very best”, everyone could benefit from remembering another theme from the series: we live in a world we must defend. And the easiest ways to do that include for instance, not dumping 70 bags of rubbish per night in public parks.

Given all the negatives (at least as seen by non-players), many people understandably hope for Pokemon to die a natural death – the sooner, the better, at least after all monsters are collected. In the meantime, we all obviously hope no one else dies for real… like the two women who died from traffic accidents about a month after the Japan launch. Unfortunately hoping for such things as world peace in the context of Pokemon GO, probably isn’t going to make them happen.