As I’m writing this, Pokemon Go has been out for close to two weeks but for the most part, remains really popular. Some have complained about the game, saying that it’s just another annoying reason for people to be looking at their phones and not their surroundings. And it is another reason people have been looking at their phones but I’d argue against the notion that the app is annoying, childish, or a waste of time. Although the stampede in Central Park trying to catch Vapereon seemed like a little much.
There are many others, myself included, who have expressed gratitude for Pokemon Go because it has given us a reason to get out of bed and go out. Getting out of bed and interacting with strangers is often really hard for me – between depression wanting me to stay in bed and anxiety making it very difficult to interact with strangers, Pokemon Go has provided at least one reason to go out and walk around. I haven’t played it much but it’s still been so much fun and incredibly helpful in combating some of my struggles.
I can only speak for my own experiences but it does seem like I’m not the only person that’s been helped by Pokemon Go. Others have voiced similar experiences on social media – with many also saying that the game helps them leave the house, get some exercise in, and also interact with people. One mom in North Carolina noticed that the game also helped her son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder.
Of course, there have been some problems with the app – one being actual glitches with the game. But another is the accessibility of it. In order to play the game, for the most part, you need to be able to walk around usually busy places. This can be incredibly difficult for people who might not be able to do that for whatever reason. AJ Ryan wrote about playing Pokemon Go from home, saying in particular that:
My Pokemon GO experience has been radically different than my friends. I have not battled in any gyms nor have I been given the option to pick a team. I have not met Pokemon on my commute to work or while walking in the park.
The reality is that while many are getting out and walking around because of the game, there are many others who aren’t able to participate at all or in the same way because they are disabled or differently abled. For some, like AJ Ryan from above, it’s not impossible but it’s definitely a lot more difficult. Alyx from disabilityhealth on tumblr has written a lot about Pokemon Go recently and has also written about the different features that would make the game more accessible.
I’m personally really excited about the game for so many reasons – one because it’s the closest that we’ll get to actually becoming real life Pokemon masters and two because it gives me a reason to get out of the house and walk around. But I also wish it was significantly more accessible so that everyone would be able to play it. To all those playing, stay hydrated, stay safe, and be aware of your surroundings (including but not limited to not playing the game while driving)!