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Hitmonleefer Madness!

by Mike Pinkerton

An editorial comparing the stigmatization of Pokémon GO and other previously frowned upon things such as Rock and Roll and Drugs. 

The Pokémon GO Logo.

The Pokémon GO Logo.

“Video Games are bad for you? That’s what they said about Rock and Roll.”

Vices. We all have them. Those things that we do to let out those inner feelings that we don’t want muddling up our daily lives: If you’re self-destructive, a cigarette is better than reckless driving. If you feel like you get too controlling in everyday life, bondage could be a good way to relieve those controlling tendencies. If you feel as though you need to stick to an adult life, but you want to let your inner child out, sometimes video games, or even raving, are a great release.

However, with Pokémon GO, arguably the most played video game at the moment, and becoming one of the most played games in history. Let’s face it: It’s surpassed multiple sports and other games in a little over a month when it comes to player base. There are more people who have caught a Pidgey than have thrown a frisbee recently. It’s popular, and it’s one of the nerdiest things to ever happen. It’s nerd culture that’s mainstream.

“And that’s the point – Not to make something sell, something very popular, but to love something, and make something that we creators can love. It’s the very core feeling we should have in making games.” Shigeru Miyamoto, on Pokémon.

When Shigeru Miyamoto, the video game designer and essentially the Stan Lee of Nintendo (creator of Legend of Zelda, Mario, Kid Icarus, the Ice Climbers, among others) describes creating video games that people will love, he uses his gut feelings over focus groups. As though he’s a chef that won’t serve anything he won’t eat, and it’s worked. Maybe Miyamoto just has good taste, but for him, and for Nintendo, it works.

But obviously, when everybody’s doing it, the people who aren’t are wondering what’s going on. The outsider wonders if there’s a conspiracy underneath it all, or if it’s a concern that we’ve all given up our lives to this evil menace, or at least our Google accounts, and it’s only a matter of time before we’re all sent to Pearl Harbor or whatever the hell happened in the Chinpokomon episode of South Park.

It reminds me of the film Reefer Madness; a propaganda piece so ridiculous, that some people aren’t really sure if it’s parody or not decades later. But, propaganda is dangerous. Last year, offhand remarks about Planned Parenthood selling baby parts, without proof, led to the murder of multiple people inside of a Planned Parenthood, by someone with an agenda, who simply wanted an excuse to kill. And the political right gave it to him.

Look at the War on Drugs: Was it simply an excuse to fill up prisons with nonviolent offenders? Unfortunately, for the powers that be, it was. But for many people, they truly felt that police were doing the right thing. They want safety, and when you don’t understand someone else, you find them dangerous.

The New Rock and Roll. Is that all it is? A vice that helps us let out our inner child?

Or is it some Nintendo conspiracy to get more people in shape, further blurring the line between jocks and nerds in a world where the guy in a Captain America shirt bench pressing at the 24 is trying to finish up a little early so he can go binge-watch Stranger Things with his friends?

Did Nintendo inadvertently create a game that could promote peace? Simply by encouraging people to go outside and meet their neighbors, and having them battle?

If this is the “ultimate bridge between the nerd world and the mainstream world,” could we please come up with a better way to describe it that doesn’t make me sound so damn pretentious? Only time will tell.

Thanks for reading this article!

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