By Ahmad Faizuddin
Today people are busy playing games online. Games are not exclusive to children anymore. Even adults put a lot of attention to the virtual world. One that many people have a crush on right now is Pokemon Go. While some people might argue for its benefits, it is actually poisonous to future generation.
As we know that Pokemon Go is an app-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic, a Japanese company, in July 2016. The name originated from Japanese words “Poketto” and “Monsut” loosely translated in English as Pocket Monster. Some people are feeling nostalgic with the characters of Pokemon which once were so famous on TV screen around 1990s.
To play the game, players need to move around various locations utilising global positioning system (GPS) to locate and capture virtual monsters that appeared on the screen as if they are real. A total of 150 creatures might appear in odd places, like intersections, traffic lights, billboards, fences, wastebaskets, cemeteries, police stations, military bases, and even president’s office.
To my surprise, there are several locations for getting the balls and catching monsters virtually in the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) compound. That includes the Masjid, library, Rectory building and many other places.
Looking at the hunting places, no wonder this game causes numerous problems and banned from certain premises. Sometimes Poke-players might have to invade others’ private properties, might be hit by cars, fell down from the cliff, dragged in the water, and even can cause death.
With the advance of technology, game like Pokemon Go is the future game. This trend is unstoppable because nowadays smartphones are becoming our daily needs. The time we are spending in front of social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the likes is more than the time we spend for other activities.
In Grown up Digital, Don Tapscott describes today’s generation as tech savvy. Compared to their parents, today’s children can easily adapt to all kinds of technologies. Their mentality and response towards changes are fast. They are able to manage abundance of information creatively. Specifically, Tapscott argues that playing interactive games can train specific skills to its players, including language to understand the instruction, response to challenges, and problem solving.
On the other hand, there are people who are pessimistic with the advance of technology. Parents are worried that it can be misused. It is reasonable due to the facts that we found cases whereby youths are trapped in pornography and cyber bullying. Even in academic life students are getting used to plagiarise their works by copy-paste from the Internet. Thus, parents need to guide their children of the risks and dangers of the technology.
In the case of Pokemon Go, parents need to brief their children before playing the game. What is the purpose of playing the game and is it worthy to go all out and take all the risks? Parents need to warn their children on the time and energy they will use for something beneficial. Just because people are playing this game, not necessarily we have to play as well. Parents need to guide their children who suffer from this kind of peer pressure and develop their righteous self-esteems.
Some people might also argue that playing this game helps them to bond with family members. Unfortunately, there are also cases where parents abandoned their children at home to hunt the monsters. In addition, cases like texting and playing Pokemon Go while driving have caused dangerous accidents to the drivers themselves and others surrounding them. Have we ever thought that it is a waste of money and time? So what after we catch the monsters?
People can be very addicted to technology. Basically, tools like smartphones are good. Yet, it can be harmful if we do not use it properly. Perhaps we can use the game of Pokemon Go positively. A friend of mine laughed at me when I presented this idea. Instead of hunting virtual monsters, government or authority, for example, can create this augmented reality game to introduce landmarks of the cities, museums, historical places or tourist sites.
Indeed, there are people who are trying to adopt this technology to be more positive use. For instance, as reported by Voice of America, a school principal in Belgium – Aveline Gregoire – develops this game into hunting books around the neighbourhood. Instead of GPS, she uses Facebook group called Chasseur de Livres (The Book Hunters). The players upload the images and hints where they are hidden. When someone found a book, he or she may read it and release it again afterwards.
As a friend of mine argued, it sounds like a nerd work. But, at least we should try more positive kinds of games. Let us encourage youth to read books instead of hunting monsters. If we can make Pokemon Go as family’s time-bonding activity, why can’t we make it more precious by hunting books and read them together.
We are hoping that we can utilise technology for the benefit of society. Future generation needs to be prepared physically and mentally so they will be able to do their jobs optimally. Ultimately, children need to know that virtual world is not as real as the real world.***