The Pros and Cons of Pokémon Go
PPrince George, B.C. – While there’s no doubt Pokémon Go has helped inspire people to get off their couches and head outdoors this summer there’s still debate over whether the app has had an entirely positive effect on its users.
( at right, screenshot of Pokémon Go App as it loads)
“Well I think any activity that helps people out walking and moving around is always something that we endorse because we want people to move around,” says Steve Raper, chief communications officer with Northern Health.
“But I think where the issue comes in for us, and it’s not simply with Pokémon Go, it’s the PDAs (personal digital assistants), it’s looking at your phone while you’re texting, it’s Facebooking or whatever you’re doing at intersections, it’s doing these things safely.
“It’s making sure you’re taking the time if you’re at an intersection you’re making eye contact with the driver before you cross the road (For tips on staying safe click here). It’s those simple practices that are getting forgotten as we bury our faces in our personal hand-held devices.”
Aside from exercise, Pokémon Go, which uses a mobile phone’s GPS to decide which Pokémon appear in the game before a player captures ‘them all’, seems to be promoting an interest in the arts, at least in Prince George.
“We have two gyms on the site and gyms are important in the whole Pokémon Go craze,” says Carolyn Holmes, managing director of Two Rivers Gallery. “You need to visit them and show the strength of your Pokémon and you can battle to gain control of each gym.”
Holmes says one of gyms – located upstairs in the atrium – opened to the public last night and is hoping people come by and check it out.
“That’s where you need to come and check out the whole gallery. You can sit in one of the chairs in the galleria and look at the art and you can battle away.”
She also sees Pokémon Go as a great way to promote what’s happening at the gallery.
“I guess it’s kind of cool, right? Anything that gets people out,” says Holmes. “Lots of people in town we know haven’t been here before so if they’re coming for the purpose of collecting Pokémon and they see what other great things we have here; I think that will benefit us in the long run.”
Pokémon Go has also helped spur business at the Black Donkey Café located at 3rd and George downtown.
“Well it just so happens that on the corner here where we are, there’s three Poke Stops which are basically areas players can find a Pokémon,” says administrative manager Marc Legere. “So our corner has been very, very busy and so we kind of took advantage of that and we now have 32 USB charging stations here in the café and we’re open late hours.”
During the week the café now closes at around 2 a.m. and as a result, Legere estimates business has tripled over the past week or so.
Christie Ray, CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, encourages other businesses to take advantage too.
“It’s certainly something I think businesses will want to consider and look into from a marketing standpoint, there could be some real benefit.”
She suggests interested businesses start by downloading the free Pokémon Go app to see if your business is a gym or a Poke Stop.
“And if it is one of those then basically you’re already sitting on a bit of a marketing goldmine and it’ll be very easy to capitalize on the proximity to this Pokémon app.”
But if you’re not?
“You could potentially purchase different apps. You can pay to have a Pokémon Go character visit your business and it works out to be about a dollar per 30 minutes or so. You can buy for short or long periods of time. It could potentially be a great way to get customers into your establishment.”
Despite fostering exercise, a love of the arts and business acumen, the Pokémon Go craze does have its dark side.
For instance, just last week the Prince George RCMP said a male suspect stole approximately $600 in Pokémon merchandise at a store in the Parkwood Mall.
Thankfully for the merchant police say all the merchandise was recovered though the suspect managed to flee the scene.