Pokemon Go is incredible, enough said. The game has dug up our fond, childhood memories, brought us out on the streets, made us interact with people we never thought we would, and given us a world that all of us once wished to be real. Having grown up in the ‘90s, I too have taken to marauding the streets around my office, or actually, any road that I can walk on. I’ve even caught a Pikachu, a Squirtle and a Magmar, as testament to my excellence at this game.
With this game being so engrossing, we’ve all taken to walking around with our eyes and minds buried in our phones to ensure we do not miss the moment a rare Pokemon turns up. I’m no exception to this either, no matter how much I’ve denied such claims made by people around me. I’ve been thoroughly addicted to Pokemon Go, ever since I started playing it on July 12. When the servers failed to work last week, I had a fairly boring time, and kept thinking of all the Pokemon I could have caught, or gyms I could have taken over, when I was out for dinner. Despite the statutory warning on the game’s welcome screen insisting you remain alert to your surroundings, there’s barely any scope for that. Once you open the game, you’re constantly analysing the type of Pokemon you already have, counting the number of Mankey you need to evolve it to Primeape, tracking the Nearby list for new Pokemon, planning when to use the Lucky Egg to gain more experience points, looking on the Map for nearest Pokestops, and more. For the average (or even the exceptional) human brain, there’s barely enough response space left to react to approaching cars and road obstacles.
A theft, at this point, is the last thing you would expect to encounter. Yesterday, when I left from office and caught a Geodude at the first crossroads, all I had in mind was hatching the 2km egg (which, by the way, hatched into a pretty powerful Squirtle) by the time I reach home. My spirits were lifted further when I spotted a Magmar right after that, and even more when I caught it at the first attempt. At this very moment, two gentlemen on a motorbike suddenly pushed me from behind, grabbed the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 from my extended hand, and sped away. I could only shout and alert anyone in my vicinity who even tried to run after them, but to no avail. It took a few seconds for me to realise that this actually happened - something that is so probable in Noida, where sudden thefts have been fairly commonplace. Despite having known it, there seemed barely any possibility that I would actually end up with my phone stolen. I would not have realised them approaching even if I was only talking on the phone, and possibly not ended up losing it had I not been playing the game.
The suddenness of the situation seemed like an orchestrated effort to put a reality check on the amount of time and attention that we have invested in this game. Should I have been more aware, and careful? Certainly. Even in general, we are spending too much time playing Pokemon Go, and more importantly, have been too engrossed in it, in general. The appeal is understandable, but the realisation of exactly how involved you have been in it comes when you end up losing the phone and end up traveling back home, like a ‘normal’ person.
I’m sure many others may end up facing similar incidents, and this is why it was important for me to share this. I have not stopped playing Pokemon Go, and have shifted it to my old Apple iPhone 5s. Needless to say, I am now infinitely more aware of my surroundings, and to think how much the game impacts you is startling.
On a sidenote, I now have a very powerful Squirtle.