– By Daniel Greco, Newnan High Student
If you haven't been living under a rock or in Syria for the past month, you are probably aware of the current worldwide craze that is Pokemon GO.
You may have seen it on the news, your kids may play it, you may have even heard Bill O'Reilly complain about it (which is no surprise since he does that with everything else as well). Still, lots of people are left with questions.
“What is the concept of this game?” you might ask. “Should my kids play it?”
If you aren't familiar with Pokemon GO (or Pokemon in general) here's how it is in layman's terms: Pokemon are fictional creatures (often with tongue-in-cheek names) that you can collect virtually. In the original games, collecting Pokemon was limited to an in-game world that was only playable on devices such as the Nintendo DS and Gameboy.
However, with the advent of the all-new smartphone app Pokemon GO, this virtual world became a (semi) reality. Pokemon GO incorporates the novel technology of augmented reality by superimposing Pokemon on your phone's camera, allowing you to “catch” them with the swipe of a finger.
Additionally, these Pokemon don't just pop up in front of you while you sit on the couch, stuffing your pie hole with Cheetos. No, the game requires you to quite literally walk outside and find them for yourself.
So why are so many people worried about this game? It's free, it doesn't eat up a ton of cellular data, and it's done more to combat obesity in a month than Michelle Obama has in eight years. In fact, parent company Nintendo isn't unhappy either, as stock prices are the highest they've been in three decades.
Why is there this much negativity around a total game changer?
The answer is simple. I play this game and I'll be more than willing to run into oncoming traffic to catch a moderately rare Pokemon. I'm sure others would do the same.
There have been many reports of people glued to their phones and getting hit by passing cars while playing, teens going onto private property to search for the creatures, and even people setting up muggings using the game's real-life map.
Thanks to Facebook chain stories and biased media, panicked parents and police are frantically trying to stop this game's spread. In Newnan alone, anyone caught going into a cemetery to play will be issued a citation, and Newnan High School has unofficially banned use of the game on its premises.
Let's talk about some of these issues. For one thing, of course Pokemon players should be careful while walking on roads and through streets. Getting hit by a car doesn't feel very good, and nobody should be subjected to that if it can be avoided.
That being said, drivers should also be alert of their surroundings and be prepared to avoid anyone that actually is walking in the street.
Secondly, I'm going to say what all my fellow players have been thinking. Pokemon GO should not be banned at cemeteries like our city's ordinance has stated. Teens are getting hit with fines just because they were aimlessly walking/driving in a cemetery.
While it can be argued that they are “disrespecting” the graves/site, they are neither physically nor digitally desecrating them, which is the true crime stated in said ordinance. Personally, it should be up to the person's own conscience to decide whether or not to pick up some Pokeballs over by Great Uncle Leroy's headstone.
As long as you aren't bothering anyone or breaking anything, I believe you should be free to hunt for Pokemon anyplace except for private property, in which you can be busted for trespassing.
Finally, if parents are so worried about their poor little ones being in danger while playing this game, then it should really be up to their discretion. Police have worse things to worry about than kids jaywalking or walking into cemeteries. This game is not supposed to be legally regulated.
In closing, Pokemon GO is a fun, (usually) safe activity that promotes people to go outside and explore the outside world. I have literally seen people that look like they haven't gone outside in 20 years milling around in sunny Downtown Newnan, phones in hand. Is this divine intervention, or has this game freed people from the confines of their basement? It's up to you to decide.
Maybe, just maybe, you'll try to go Pokemon hunting yourself.