The Pokemon GO Story The Mainstream Media Keeps Avoiding

Image: Kotaku

"I'm sad I didn't get a selfie," Gizmodo's Rae Johnston told me this morning. It was the daily commute, nothing out of the ordinary.

Except for a senior citizen playing Pokemon GO.

She's level 22. Rae isn't level 21. My partner only just hit level 21. I'm only level 20. It's an exceptional effort. But this old lady walks everywhere. She hits all the Pokestops.

This is the Pokemon GO mainstream media keeps ignoring.

Image: Kotaku

I'm sitting in the middle of the Allure Media offices. It's comfortable, but not flashy. There's a TV, a wooden desk and some chairs. That's about it. There's no space for a seperate chill-out zone. It's not a great place for an interview either. There's too much noise, desks and people about.

But that's what one mainstream TV station wanted. With a bright light directly in my face, a producer repeatedly asked me the question: "So, can you tell me more about Pokemon GO being banned?"

The game hasn't really been banned in Australia. You can't play it in NSW courts, but then you shouldn't have your smartphone out in the first place. After all, the Court security act says anyone caught using a recording device in a NSW court could be hit with a $22,000 fine and/or jail time for a year.

That's not really an indictment against Pikachu. Nor is the Australian War Memorial asking people to be respectful when walking around exhibits. It's a war museum. People are meant to be absorbing the history and the horrors of war, and having little kids excitedly running around for a Squirtle isn't exactly appropriate.

But the museum hasn't announced any bans against the game. At the time of the interview they hadn't. Even Sportsbet as of this morning is no longer running a futures market on the first venue to ban Pokemon GO -- although they are still taking bets on what state will ban the mobile AR game first.

The game's been sporadically banned overseas. Police officers in Indonesia, for instance, are prohibited from playing the game during work hours, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum sternly put their foot down. In Australia, the only "bans" are things that you'd expect from reasonable adults and institutions. Don't play the game during school hours. You're an employee, not a Pokemon trainer. Get back to work.

The same thing everyday society expects, really. But that wouldn't fit the narrative, would it?

Image: Kotaku

Thousands of people. That's how many people have turned out around Australia for group Pokemon hunts.

But we know how popular the organised walks have been. What you hear less of is the personal stories. The mother whose child asked if they could go for a walk with them for the first time. The couple walking down the street on a daily basis, instead of once in a blue moon.

The men and women walking around late at night, happily on the hunt. Not as scared of the four or five kids on the opposite side of the street. Less frightened by a dark road or an empty park.

People that might not have wanted to venture out of the house before. People whose social anxiety was too great to manage.

People who now are more comfortable around other people, because of Pokemon GO.

But of course that's not the story.

Image: Bloomberg

This graph from Bloomberg is the kind of story mainstream media understands. It's a comparison of Nintendo's market capitalisation -- the combined value of a company's shares -- against Sony's.

Nintendo almost doubled in value because of a single game. That's A Big Story. That's money. That's something that's easily understood.

But as of this morning, that price is starting to fall. Nintendo shares finished trade at ¥31,770 yesterday Japanese time. The lowest point in today's trade so far: ¥26,885.

It doesn't really matter that the stock price was ¥13,380 just over three weeks ago. Or the fact that Pokemon GO is yet to properly take off in Japan, one of the companies biggest markets. Or that Pokemon Sun and Moon will sell like hotcakes when it's released. And then there's still the NX question.

The Pokemon GO bubble has burst. That's the narrative floating around. Not the fact that people have rediscovered a franchise, en masse, and have found new ways to engage with people on the street that they would have never said hello to.

People are becoming physically uncomfortable because of Pokemon GO. That's the story you hear. Not the fact that a wild Pikachu or Charizard has motivated them to walk more than their own interest in their well-being could ever do. And certainly not the fact that people are using their new-found love of exercise to raise money for charity.

Businesses and museums are banning the game. Those are the headlines you read. Not the fact that nowhere in Australia has explicitly done so, or the fact that RSLs, cafes, pubs and vendors around the country have used nearby Pokestops and Gyms as an agile form of promotion, a fun way to reconnect with their customers.

People are staring at their phones, not talking to each other, disconnected from the real world. Those are the complaints, from newspapers, presenters and shock jocks. Even though the sense of community has exploded in ways nobody could have possibly imagined. Even though Pokemon fans are now more connected than those complaining will ever understand.


Comments

    The Pokemon GO Story The Mainstream Media Keeps Avoiding

    Something other than Pokemon GO?

      I think the majority of the mainstream coverage has been on the problems presented by Pokemon Go, rather than the positives stemming from increased physical activity and connectedness among the community.

        Before Pokemon GO:

        "You kids need to get out more! I remember when kids used to play on the streets together, you should do more of that!"

        After Pokemon GO:

        "Damn kids playing outside. It's too dangerous!"

          So true! I am scared for all the young kidlings! Bobby Jones OUT!

    Same old story. Kids are iPhone zombies, it doesn't matter they're using them for exercise, entertainment, or learning. Staring at a book or newspaper is ok, staring at a phone is antisocial and unhealthy. Walking to rack up steps on your pedometer or fitbit is ok, walking to hatch your 50th magikarp isn't.

      It's different though. Reading a book is different to say, playing Candy Crush or CoD like a mindless zombie. Walking around with a fitbit that's a passive thing whilst looking around is different to staring at your screen, mostly oblivious to your surroundings.

      I'm personally glad it got people moving around more. Unless you're in a city, where I've mostly noticed people go to a stop where there's lots of lures and then proceed to stand around for an hour. Hardly any benefit there.

      It's definitely made me a bit more active and I appreciate that about this game.

        Why do you assume someone looking at their phone is playing Candy Crush? Couldn't they be reading an eBook or the news?
        When I use Pokémon Go I walk between stops with my phone in my hand and look at it when I feel it vibrate, telling me there's a Pokémon nearby. Sometimes if I pass a lure or cluster of lures, I might stop for a few minutes to catch 3-4 Pokémon in a row, but then I keep walking. Maybe not everyone does but if they're standing by one lure they're missing opportunities, because those stops won't refresh with new items/xp for 10-15 minutes.

    I'll beat this drum as loud and as often as I have to:

    Gaming news sites did this themselves since the Wii, all the while ignoring the positive mainstream coverage and looking down on the way it transcending the known limits of the industry at the time.

    Case in point, Youtubers - we've heard nothing but scorn and disdain from this new sector of media/PR/engagement when it comes to Nintendo, and it absolutely wreaks of the same sentiment we're seeing the old media try and push when it comes to Pokemon Go.

    I haven't gone for a look but how exactly are the so-called taste-makers covering Pokemon Go? If at all?

      Nintendo hasn't really endeared themselves to the YouTube crowd with their approach to LP's and the like though.

        Oh absolutely, and that's why I tempered what I said with not wanting to exactly put a boot in to either side or take a side in that stuff at all.

        I think there's a real issue you've touched on with what you've said in the article and it's very eloquently put. The talk about the talk about Pokemon Go is fascinating to say the least :D

        I don't care about vinyl myself but I'd love to see Nintendo soundtracks on CD or at least released digitally. Happy to pay!

          Plenty to be found if you hit up some of the second hand stores in Japan :P

          Need to get around to grabbing myself a copy of Splatunes. Do have both de Blob albums on vinyl though, they're rad. Apparently the first came out on CD though, wouldn't mind having a copy of that too.

          Last edited 21/07/16 3:36 pm

          I'm happy to pay too, but I downloaded the Pokemon soundtrack app from Google Play, only to find I was barred from using it because I have root access.

          www.play-asia.com

          OST's have been around since digital music. Check out the JSO playing Zelda music, it is awesome!

    This is bullwank. Not only is the title poor because this isn't the 'story that everyone is avoiding' it's only the 'story about what media likes to tell and now here's one about that that Kotaku picked up.'

    We've been inundated with Pokemon GO news since the last few weeks and we've heard it ALL: good news, bad news, speculative news, puff-piece, doomsaying and on and on. I've been hearing about people banning the game as much as I hear about people celebrating it. How about that story of a childrens hospital that used the game to help kids get up out of their beds and socialise with others?

      This is bullwank.I'm listening.

      Not only is the title poor because this isn't the 'story that everyone is avoiding'Not what the title of the article is at all, so since you're started with a strawman I have to assume everything that follows is predicated on this false premise, but I'll keep reading.

      it's only the 'story about what media likes to tell and now here's one about that that Kotaku picked up.' Well I guess you kind of understood the article.

      We've been inundated with Pokemon GO news since the last few weeks and we've heard it ALL: good news, bad news, speculative news, puff-piece, doomsaying and on and on.
      In the mainstream media? News.com.au and the like? Because the vast majority of the stories are scaremongering. People getting injured, discovering dead bodies, getting lured into secluded areas to get mugged, having car accidents, getting arrested and/or fined. After Nintendo's stock price doubled without a blip on the financial news radar, it then drops 10% from it's peak and the hot take from Business Insider was "Pokémon Go craze is over, Nintendo is getting destroyed".

      I've been hearing about people banning the game as much as I hear about people celebrating it.Sure, on sites like Kotaku and other sites with a gaming slant on them, or other minor news sites.

      How about that story of a childrens hospital that used the game to help kids get up out of their beds and socialise with others?I googled this story because it was the first I heard of it. The only "mainstream" source I saw spruiking it was USA Today. You know what the second link in the search results was? A story asking people not to put lures on Pokestops near a children's hospital in Canada

      Last edited 21/07/16 2:52 pm

        Not what the title of the article is at all, so since you're started with a strawman

        Paraphrasing "The Pokemon Go story the Mainstream Media keeps avoiding" to "'story that everyone is avoiding" makes it a strawman? There's a reason I used single quotes. It's pretty clear that in paraphrasing the title that everyone = the mainstream media, considering this comment is entirely situated within the concerning article in the very context that the mainstream media is accepted to be the majority (everyone) of published media.

        If anything I'm just frustrated that this article uses the classic click-baity style of saying, 'here's the story they didn't want to cover' and then writing not about any specific story, but instead looking at a few trends in what media did or didn't care about.' A better title would be something like. "Contrary to what mainstream media is saying, Pokemon Go is not being banned everywhere." Of course I'm not journalist so my wordsmithing is going to be bad.

        Because the vast majority of the stories are scaremongering. People getting injured, discovering dead bodies, getting lured into secluded areas to get mugged, having car accidents, getting arrested and/or fined.

        Yeah no shit. That's the mainstream media about anything. Not just Pokemon GO, any popular new thing is causing mayhem and brainwashing our kids and so on. Popular media deserve to be skewered like this, but we know how they work: get news that shocks and amuses in as little words as possible, and get something with some facts so the consumer watchdog can't accuse us of making shit up. So shocking stories about Pokemon GO (new hot thing) being related to something in a police report (shocking! and facts!) will get top billing. I'm sure there would've been a few positive pieces on Pokemon GOs arrival to herald the 'new craze' but there's only so far to go: once you've pointed out all that there's a new craze of these people travelling and congregating to enjoy a video game then that's it...

        I'm not condoning that journalistic attitude though. I just know they won't be interested in picking up stories about how some depressed person finally left the house thanks to Pokemon GO. That said I don't think the mainstream is 'avoiding' positive Pokemon GO stories, just that they already (perhaps mistakenly) think that avenue is dried up, while niche press (like Kotaku), would paint the opposite image, by reporting continually on minor stories.

        Business Insider was "Pokémon Go craze is over, Nintendo is getting destroyed".

        I'll agree with you on this, since speculative market is going to be fear driven. Don't they report this way on any sharp downswing?

        Sure, on sites like Kotaku and other sites with a gaming slant on them, or other minor news sites.

        Well not just here, but I know what you mean. There has to be less gaming-specific stories to tell though through mainstream media, so there'll only get to be X good stories and Y bad stories ever worthwhile for them and for us it'll be more XXX and YYY. But some people will have news from varying sources so they could have XXYYXXYXY of stories. Somebody who just listens to one mainstream source like Fox News or something will end up with XYY and there's a good chance they'll be the kind of audience who don't give a crap beyond those 'damn kids crowding up my sidewalk' (even if it's just so swell that those kids are finally outside getting some exercise or something.)

        I googled this story because it was the first I heard of it. The only "mainstream" source I saw spruiking it was USA Today. You know what the second link in the search results was? A story asking people not to put lures on Pokestops near a children's hospital in Canada

        Ignore the second result, as that's just google trying to figure out what you were searching for. Regardless, USA today is surely a mainstream source right?

        Look I don't think this reply is actually doing much for my argument, except hopefully clarifying why I didn't like the article or didn't think it said much about anything specific enough for its point.

        Last edited 21/07/16 4:59 pm

          For once I didn't see the title as click-baity because I immediately assumed Alex was talking about the positive sides of Pokemon GO.

          Mainstream media just wants to be the debbie downer in the room on everything, if you fear everything you'll keep watching the news to learn about what's fearful next, right?

      To be fair it's also an extremely dry season for games, post e3 is usually a snooze fest in terms of new releases.

    My brother in law is over 150kg he's never done anything outside he's room as well as he's mates now they're going on 10km walks in one go (that's amazing) he's made many more mate's through walking too, only problem is the people who drive and game the rest seems like positive social behavior and revenue razing for companies really win win

    Last edited 21/07/16 2:37 pm

    So I started a Work for the Dole project this week and the thing we bonded over was the fact we're all on Team Mystic.

    Second day there, I'm walking to the place, and a group of them are coming the other way and invite me along to catch some pokemon in a nearby park. People I have known, at this point, for a few hours.

    So yeah this game is making doing Work for the Dole tolerable, which is nice.

      New headlines: "Job hunters finding Pokemon instead of jobs"

      :D

        You KNOW they'd bloody use that too, not "People struggling with confidence issues and finding work bond together and improve as human beings."

        Yeah, mine is too verbose, "Pokemon GO is the devil" is much simpler :P

    People are becoming physically uncomfortable because of Pokemon GO. That’s the story you hear. Not the fact that a wild Pikachu or Charizard has motivated them to walk more than their own interest in their well-being could ever do.

    BS. All I'm reading from most sources is the cool stories of how it's gotten people to move around. I haven't read a single story (until this article) that mentioned banning Pokemon GO. So not entirely sure what the author is getting at. Plus:

    The Pokemon GO Story The Mainstream Media Keeps Avoiding

    If Kotaku isn't mainstream media, what is? You're not an independent gaming site. You're one of the biggest, mainstream gaming sites out there. And again to the previous point, the media has mostly been very positive about this game.

      If Kotaku isn't mainstream media, what is?You're not an independent gaming site. You're one of the biggest, mainstream gaming sites out there.Think you just answered your own question there.

      Last edited 21/07/16 3:38 pm

        Exactly, it's very easy to assume that gaming is mainstream when you're a fan and follow the news regularly - the good ol' echo chamber effect.

        Sadly, outside of this particular sphere gaming is something the majority of people don't understand, or are downright afraid of.

        Fair point Gooky, fair point!

        My other point still stands though - I haven't seen that many negative comments about the game so this still feels like a sensationalist article.

          Really? All I'm seeing on snippets for shitty ads on TV is how people are getting hurt/trespassing etc. On 9news it's all "Guatemalan teen dies playing Pokemon GO" or "QLD teenager breaks arm whilst playing Pokemon GO" or "Holocaust memorial bans Pokemon GO" or "Angry resident posts message to Pokemon GO players" etc etc.

          I'm not saying you haven't been paying attention to the news, just comes down to where you're getting your news from I think.

    >Implying Kotaku isn't mainstream media

    Good job guys. Way to stand up for the little guys!

      It isn't though. It's a niche news blog. Sure it's big in the world of gaming, but mainstream news? Nope.

      Nine News is Mainstream. The Herald Sun. The Age. They're like a bunch of adults talking about what's 'important'. Kotaku is like their weird little brother who never stops talking about the same thing, but when that's the topic you want to know about that's where you go.

    while its good people are getting out, it is rather scary how many of those people are plain idiots. Who are too busy chasing fake creatures they forget about real cars, bikes and other reality based things. I saw four people walk on to roads in just a 1km walk from station today.

    Almost crashed my bike on a path yesterday because two people came running out of nowhere, no apology or anything. Lucky i am used to dodging dogs not on leashes, tiny children also not on leashes, so a few distracted adults just add to the danger.

    Exercising outside is one thing, but getting outside and not actually looking around is another.

    Last edited 21/07/16 4:18 pm

      That's the problem though. Everyone is blaming the game but it's the idiot users who are oblivious to their surroundings and others that are going to ruin the fun for EVVVVERRRYYONE. As usual :P

    Mainstream news doesnt report the news... it report soundbites. The original click bait... tune in at 6 and find out how pokemon kills children.

    A moron is still a moron regardless of if they are plsying pokemon go or not. How many people died last year taking selfies ?

    Those two adults thst fell off a small cliff edge... lucky to survive, cause morons have been takung selfies on similar cliff edges and died.

    Nintendos share price will drop cause they have a history of not taking opprtunities to follow through on demand.

    This would the time to announce things like Pokemon nerchandising... official phone cases, team appaeral, adult clothing lines....

    Instead Pikachu Detective movie and rhe world analysts its getting a Huh? Nintendo has a poor success/fail rate... every great epic hit just has complete missed opprtunities behind it.

      Pokémon merch has been around for the last (roughly)27 years. Don't forget it isn't a new brand, and the franchise exsists to sell out. Everything you've listed has already been made at some point. I laughed when my GF yelled out "cool, you they have eeve plush toys" to which I explained it isn't new. However I do see toy manufacturers dusting off the old molds and checking if their contacts are still valid.

    'Millions of people enjoy thing' isn't much of a news story, not when there's fear and paranoia to whip up.

    In the past 20 years I've never seen so many kids riding their bikes around the park.

    Or following their parents on a Sunday walk. It brings me great joy that this may be a generation that re-claims the outdoors and becomes more than a consumer.
    I hold hope that once the hype dies down these same kids will want to try and catch frogs, build tree forts, and play hide and seek with each other.
    I hold hope that parents of these kids will talk to each other about the benefits the game has on their kids. I hope that it helps people make friends as we are all talking more to people as we play the game.

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