Pokemon go is the most contagious product ever invented, more communicable than swine flu, but without the vomiting. Today marks one week since the product was released, and the symptoms are already more conspicuous to the public than those of most contagious diseases. Victims shuffle around zombie-like, staring at their phones, stopping, pivoting, then furtively scurrying away. In a few cases the results are fatal, with victims falling into sewers, walking into walls, or stumbling into all sorts of unspeakable hazards. I’ll start by exposing the scope of the contagion.
The Pokémon Go craze is sweeping across America. See how the game works, why everyone’s so crazy about it, and all the stories that have come from it, from the game’s positive impact on depression victims to armed robberies. As The Washington Post’s Ben Guarino reported, the game has led to robberies and to police-citizen unity, to falling in love and to the discovery of dead bodies.
Experts concur the effect will grow:
The easy analogy here is drugs. We know drugs are a cheap way for people unhappy, or unsatisfied, with this reality to escape to a (temporarily) more pleasurable one. We’ve stanched that by making most recreational drugs illegal. But VR and AR are a consumer technology. We don’t make consumer technologies illegal. We celebrate them, write stories about them, improve them. And so they get better, more addictive, more alluring.
Naturally, the authorities offer caution:
“Reports of close calls associated with playing Pokémon Go already are rolling in,” reads a statement released Tuesday by the National Safety Council. “The Council urges gamers to consider safety over their scores before a life is lost.”
Meanwhile, investor frenzy skyrockets:
Investors can continue to sit on their hands and chase other underperforming technology (3D printing, anyone?), or they can finally give AR some love. Nintendo gave AR a little bit of that love with Pokémon Go and gained $7.5 billion in market value in just two days as a result.
This is no time to stay calm. Stay tuned for our next exciting episode of Pokemon Go Wacko!