Heads Down, New Communities Build Up
Posted on July 29, 2016 by Alice Jackson
The Pokémon Go craze will likely spur academic studies for a variety of reasons, according to a University of South Alabama psychologist who is also an avid player.
As more and more people around the world are downloading and playing the game, Dr. Stephanie Jett, a visiting assistant professor, said the potential for studying the phenomenon is increasing.
“Obviously, people are building social communities that never would have come together if not for Pokémon Go,” Jett said. “But we’re also hearing about people with social anxieties or other disorders getting up and moving outside the house for the first time in a long time to Poké hunt, and that’s very interesting.”
The free smartphone app uses technology inside the phones to create an augmented reality for players to hunt and capture exotic characters from Pokémon, the popular Japanese cartoon franchise that became popular in the 1990s.
On South’s campus, students and area residents hunt for the creatures, especially in the evenings, and some pursue them into the wee hours of the morning. Players usually congregate in and around Moulton Tower, the Humanities Building and the Chemistry Building, claiming most Pokémon are there.
Jett said she began playing Pokémon Go with her 7-year-old nephew.
“It’s kind of taken over his little life right now, and both my sister and I are enjoying it with him. Also, I’ll admit I play some on my own, and I’ve gone down some streets in my new neighborhood I may never have visited otherwise,” she said.
Jett said one interesting thing is how players are thinking about ways to reach out to people unable to play easily.
“I have a friend talking about forming a group to help disabled people get out and play Pokémon,” she explained. “It doesn’t matter about race, creed or religion, it seems. The game is breaking down barriers, bringing people together and also helping them to think about doing things together in ways they likely wouldn’t have ever done.”
Jett added it’s likely there’s also going to be downsides to Pokémon Go.
“Other than the safety aspect, you could get too involved with it. For students, it’s probably way more fun than studying, but all players need to be respectful where they play it, and they need to be aware it’s bad if the game leads them to shirk their adult responsibilities,” she said.
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