It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Pokémon. For over 17 years, I’ve sunk countless hours into every game, traveling across varying regions, capturing hundreds of powerful beasts and collecting every gym badge. With the announcement of Pokémon branching into the mobile market, I was ecstatic to embark on a brand-new adventure.
Developed by Niantic, Inc., “Pokémon GO” has taken the world by storm. Within mere weeks of its launch, the mobile game claimed the title of the most downloaded app in Itunes’ history. In fact, Nintendo, the owner of the Pokémon franchise, saw an increase of roughly 8% in its stock after “Pokémon GO’s” release! Everyone, and I mean everyone, is playing “Pokémon GO.”
My love for the games does not solely come from the beautiful landscapes, or the exotic and terrifyingly powerful creatures. A large part of my infatuation with the series is due to its general accessibility.
Pokémon games are, in my opinion, the most accessible titles I’ve ever played. In order to effectively complete each journey, all I need is a sturdy surface, and one hand. Moving across the world map requires nothing but minor inputs on a directional pad, and battles are turn-based, meaning that I don’t need to quickly mash the correct move. As a result of this simplicity, I have always been able to play every Pokémon game, regardless of the required system.
That is, until “Pokémon GO.”
First, let me clarify something. I am able to play certain games on my smartphone. I can swipe and tap the screen, provided that my phone is on a flat surface. Now, herein lies the problem with Niantic, Inc’s. smash hit.
“Pokémon GO” requires players to actively move throughout the real world. While it is true that you can disable the augmented reality mode, thus eliminating seeing the beasts on sidewalks and lawns, you still need to travel. “Pokémon GO” utilizes Google Maps, as well as your phone’s GPS, which places wild Pokémon, and gyms around the world. National parks and monuments; malls; churches; restaurants; schools and even in the middle of bodies of water are all possible locations to capture Pokémon and occupy gyms. For an able-bodied individual, traveling to these destinations are a part of everyday life (well…aside from kayaking into the ocean). For a disabled individual like myself, trips to local malls or restaurants requires a great deal of effort.
Do I have a ride? Is the vehicle wheelchair accessible? Is the establishment wheelchair accessible? Would someone be willing to hold my phone for me while I awkwardly swipe to capture that Pokémon?
What’s even more frustrating, is that evolution in “Pokémon GO” requires capturing the same monster over, over, over and over again. Rather than incorporate a traditional leveling system, this game forces you to snag tens, occasionally hundreds of the same Pokémon! If I desperately wanted a Pidgeot, but only captured 22 Pidgey, I would need 28 more of the small birds, just so I could acquire the large-winged beast. Due to unforeseen complications, I may not be able to acquire the remaining Pokémon for any given amount of time, meaning that my team would rarely be at their fullest fighting potential.
My feelings are appropriately mixed when it comes to “Pokémon GO.” I’m overcome with joy and happiness when I see that my favorite franchise has captured the hearts of millions. This title has broken down social boundaries, united unsuspecting fans and most importantly, it has allowed people to see the true beauty that this world has to offer. However, “Pokémon GO” has left me as an outcast. Sure, I can talk about the game. I can offer tips and tricks for which Pokémon are best for specific situations, but as it stands, I will never be able to fully experience the craze that is “Pokémon GO.”