Despite risks, Pokémon GO a hit among gamers

David Yang, Entertainment Editor

Pokémon GO has brought people from all backgrounds together as a community with a common goal: to find and train Pokémon. However, recent incidents have led some to conclude that the game is also a source of potential danger for players.
Pokémon GO is an app on mobile phones that requires players to walk or bike around the real world to catch Pokémon, literally pocket monsters, in-game. When players encounter a Pokémon, they must flick Pokéballs on their screen at the creature to capture it.
The popularity surrounding the immersive reality game has been hypothesized as being the result of nostalgia surrounding the old games, such as Pokémon Red and Blue, and the feeling of adventure.
“I feel the excitement that I first felt when I slid the Pokémon Red cartridge into my GameBoy and ventured into the woods outside of Viridian City,” “Bustle” writer Elizabeth Ballou said on the website.
However, not everyone is safe when playing the game. In O’Fallon, Mo., four suspects were convicted of armed assault and robbery. Their method of robbery: prowling near Pokéstops, locations where players can replenish their Pokéballs and other Pokémon-catching items. People also report falling from hazardous heights and fracturing their bones, while others have reported playing while driving.
“I feel like if people were to just look where they’re going and pay attention to their surroundings, they wouldn’t get hurt,” junior Julian Chan said.
“It was really dangerous to go hunting at night or even hunting in your neighborhood,” junior David Amvriz said.
The risks have not deterred users. The game has recently surpassed porn in Google searches and had more downloads and user-time than social-networks such as Twitter, Tinder and Snapchat.
Some argue that the app has increased interactions among strangers playing the game. Reports from streamers on YouTube and Twitch have shown numerous players congregating together in locations such as parks and town squares in order to catch Pokémon, effectively creating new friendships and acquaintances.
“It helps to bring your communities together,” Amvriz said.
The game is also recognized as being a source of exercise. Personal accounts by interviewees from the website Medical Daily have shown that people who play Pokémon GO have left their house with more frequency.
“I doubled how much time I walk each day because the game gives me a reason to be outside,” Medical Daily interviewee Caroline Park said.
“It gets them out,” Amvriz said of players. “It gets them either biking or running a lot around their neighborhood. It got me to go into a whole new neighborhood.”
In spite of the reported dangers, players say the game is a source of happiness, providing many people with the joy of living out their fantasies of catching all 151 Pokémon while also squeezing in a little bit of exercise.