The second Pokémon GO started its soft launch, the world has been going wild.
Mostly in good ways.
Friendships have been made with random strangers that would have never met otherwise. People have discovered parts of their city that they may have never set foot in had it not been for the game. There's also the added benefit of getting some good cardio in while you're trying to hatch that 10km egg. People are also learning how long a kilometer is, and some are even going on Pokemon-hunting dates.
A lot of what came after the release wasn't quite anticipated by those who released it and I'm pretty sure they didn't foresee the bad side of it, either. Since release, the UK media has actually declared Pokemon GO as the "most dangerous game in the world."
To be honest, I'm more than a little surprised by it. I'm talking, of course, about the seemingly rampant spouts of enmity coming from the different teams in Pokémon GO and how it's rubbing a lot of people the wrong way.
For those somehow not in the know, Pokémon GO not only lets you step out of your house and catch Pokémon out there in the wide open world, it also lets you join one of three teams and fight for pride at various gyms. The teams are Mystic, Instinct, and Valor and each have merits and traits attached to them. The hope, I would assume, was to insert a spirit of friendly competition with all the trainers out there. What's happened instead is anything but friendly.
What Started Out As Good Old Fashioned Ribbing Has Turned to Actual Hate
People having brewing resentment over something as silly as what team you're on in Pokémon GO seems pretty ridiculous. It's a game and it's meant to be fun, but somehow it's warped into something else in such a short amount of time. Being proud of your team and repping hard is one thing. Rep with all your heart, but when it encroaches on someone else's enjoyment and actually makes someone feel left out or even scared then maybe you need to take a step back and breathe for a minute.
Not only that, but needless confrontation is a one way ticket to having players banned from certain locations. Beyond that, it's a good way to tarnish something that was made with nothing but enjoyment and good intentions in mind.
Teams Take On A Gang Mentality
Friendly competition seems to have been supplanted by an all around gang-like mentality that's pretty reminiscent of cliques in high school going at each other's throats. It's just as petty with a dash of property damage to give it that little extra flavor for the unsuspecting masses. Posts like the one above have been making the rounds on the internet. Beyond that, there are also posts about groups of the same team posting up on a lure and telling those from other teams to leave.
It's important to take into mind that the effects of the virtual world of Pokémon GO and how it spills into the "real world" have been mostly positive with increase foot traffic for businesses and people making real world connections over pretend creatures that live in their phone. That being said, it's far easier to spread bad news than it is good and the bad is starting to get around.
So while we're here, I need to ask you Mystics, Valors, and Instincts a favor...
An Earnest Request from A Lover of the Game
If you're getting riled up about something that has no actual bearing on your life, then you shouldn't be playing the game. If you're going to ruin the image of a franchise by going around acting like a bully, then you shouldn't be playing the game. If you're in it to win it by shoving people around, then you shouldn't be playing the game. If you don't stop to realize that it's just a game, then you shouldn't be playing the game.
The app is meant to augment reality, not throw trash all over it and scare small children because a bunch of people with their phones out don't like the color blue or red or yellow.
To all of you playing out there: catch some rare Pokémon and get those sweet calves you've always wanted from all the walking and biking, enjoy the sunset while you're down to your last Great Ball because that Dragonite is being a smug little punk, but for God's sake keep it friendly. At the end of the day, we're all a bunch of awesome weirdos walking around with our phones out trying to catch them all and living the dream we've had since the '90s.
Now, if you don't mind, according to my phone there's an Onyx outside my apartment so I'll be on my way.