Pocket Devils
September 6, 2016 11:52 AM   Subscribe

 
> In April of 2000, two days before my tenth birthday

> I think I finally understand, at the ripe old age of 25, why the hysteria over Pokémon "gambling" reached such a fever pitch despite the fact that gaming and gambling have always been conceptually linked.

You can't turn 10 in April 2000 and be 25 in September 2016 :-/
posted by durandal at 12:12 PM on September 6, 2016


Anytime someone starts to lecture or criticize me about my love for Pokémon, I ask them if they've ever been part of a Fantasy Football league. 9/10 I am met with a guilty look and the following response: “Ok, but we're not talking about me, we're talking about Pokémon....”
posted by Fizz at 12:42 PM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Anytime someone starts to lecture or criticize me about my love for Pokémon, I ask them if they've ever been part of a Fantasy Football league. 9/10 I am met with a guilty look and the following response: “Ok, but we're not talking about me, we're talking about Pokémon....”

If you want real awkwardness call people in sports jerseys cosplayers.
posted by srboisvert at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2016 [53 favorites]


Panic gripped the heart of every God-fearing suburbanite in the 1980s when stories of the savage ritual abuse of children at the hands of Satanists started hitting the airwaves.

WTF? No it didn't.

That was largely a media trend. Most people at the time didn't put much if any stock into that sort of thing. Some did, just as some people buy into uninformed panics now, and just as some subset of gullible people always have. But it was by no means universal or even all that common, not even in the "God-fearing suburbanite" demographic of the 1980s.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:16 PM on September 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


I was staff on a summer playscheme in 2000. Pokemon stirred up the kids like nothing I'd seen before or since.

We tried engaging with it, we were there to have fun after all! Games, crafts, etc based on pokemon. Learning how to play the game properly (none of them played the game, the rules were "too hard", they just swapped cards, which led to fights and bullying). Went down like a lead balloon.

(As comparison, anything we did that was even tenuously Harry Potter related, also big in the summer of 2000, was lapped up)

We had to ban the cards (just like school, we weren't school, we didn't want to be school!)

So they started playing Pokemon without the cards. Which still led to fighing and bullying. Yes, fist fights over stealing imaginary cards.

So we had to ban Pokemon completely, no cards, no imaginary games, no mention of it.

I have never felt more like the thought police - monitoring kids playing.

We tracked down a bunch of Top Trump packs. That helped scratch some of the itch.

It wasn't the best run scheme, the management wasn't great. But there was just something about Pokemon that got the kids worked up.
posted by Helga-woo at 1:19 PM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Anybody remember when the Church Lady wasn't everyone? I think it was the seventies.
posted by srboisvert at 1:26 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


ernielundquist: "That was largely a media trend. Most people at the time didn't put much if any stock into that sort of thing. Some did, just as some people buy into uninformed panics now, and just as some subset of gullible people always have. But it was by no means universal or even all that common, not even in the 'God-fearing suburbanite' demographic of the 1980s."

I guess this really hangs on your definition of "God-fearing suburbanite," but: as a guy who grew up in an evangelical family in the 1980s, the trope of Satanic ritual abuse was disturbingly common. I'm not sure you can know how big that idea was in that particular mileue during that time unless you were living inside it, but we were told about Satanic ritual abuse (and how listening to evil music or playing evil games could lead us into that kind of thing) all the time. See for instance the infamous Mike Warnke, one of a disturbingly large number of huckster preachers capitalizing off of this notion, although it was pretty much taken as fact by the rest of us too for a long time.

Anyway, can't miss a chance to link this:

POKEMON WORLD IS THE WORLD OF THE DEMONIC!
posted by koeselitz at 1:28 PM on September 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Too Jewish, too Christian, too Shinto, too much like gambling. A helpful fatwa from the Permanent Committee.
posted by Segundus at 1:31 PM on September 6, 2016


I don't care about Pokemon, but it's interesting hearing from the Ingress players how their work was stolen.

I suppose what do you expect? Another enclosure of the commons, except this time, they got you to do their work for free. If you don't have to pay, you are the product, and all that.
posted by eustatic at 1:33 PM on September 6, 2016


I guess this really hangs on your definition of "God-fearing suburbanite,"

That's true. If that means some specific subset of evangelicals or something, it could be true that a large majority of them bought into it, and that, of course, may have varied depending on location and things like that. But it was not a super-mainstream belief, and certainly not a universal, unless it's the definition of "God-fearing suburbanite" is completely circular for "Satanically panicking."

For an article complaining about people being paranoid and panicky about Pokemon, it sure comes off as being pretty paranoid and panicky about pretty near everything else.

Pokemon Go is immensely popular and very visible. So naturally, some people are playing like jerks, other people are mad at those people, some people are mad for no reason, other people are confused, some gravitate toward alarmism, and journalists are looking to work it into every angle they can. And of course privacy and security types are warning about security issues with Pokemon Go a little more loudly than they are with, say, that flashlight app that's reading your contacts, but that's because more people are using and paying attention to Pokemon right now.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:09 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm telling you, it all started with Spock and those goddamn ears.

Expect the ritual celebration soon. That is all.
posted by Twang at 2:13 PM on September 6, 2016


I guess this really hangs on your definition of "God-fearing suburbanite," but: as a guy who grew up in an evangelical family in the 1980s, the trope of Satanic ritual abuse was disturbingly common. I'm not sure you can know how big that idea was in that particular mileue during that time unless you were living inside it, but we were told about Satanic ritual abuse (and how listening to evil music or playing evil games could lead us into that kind of thing) all the time.

Oh yeah. I can vouch for that. I've had to read articles debunking Satanic ritual abuse more than once simply because it was like having a rug pulled out from under me. As a grown adult who left the church years ago and knew they were trying to make us afraid... but to that extent? Holy cow.

If that means some specific subset of evangelicals or something, it could be true that a large majority of them bought into it, and that, of course, may have varied depending on location and things like that. But it was not a super-mainstream belief, and certainly not a universal...

Not universal, no. But you originally wrote "no means universal or even all that common, not even in the "God-fearing suburbanite" demographic of the 1980s." Sorry to say, yes it was nearly universally known in that demographic. It was very well-communicated; I still remember a specific story I heard in middle school, 28 years later. Even non-fundy churches were like, "hrm, we should maybe pay attention to this." It's not like 1980s fundy kids were in a vacuum – we were of the fundy generation supposed to "bear witness" and talk to other people/kids about this stuff. Every Christian kid from my generation I know – from several different states – heard about it.

I can get how someone who hadn't heard about it would think it wasn't widespread. The stories were the sorts that people not "in" would brush them off. Kind of like a whole lot of evangelical stuff, really.
posted by fraula at 2:24 PM on September 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Folks in my city, Milwaukee, are complaining about the number of PokeGo players in a city park. Apparently they've been littering and not going to the bathroom where they are supposed to. There's a hearing today on the future of PokeGo there and I know the city has reached out to the company that owns it to either have the park removed as a Poke place (I don't know the term) or share in the increased maintenance costs. I'm interested to see what will happen.

I'd guess that quite a few places are uncomfortable with having so many people around, but on the flip side, people are visiting the park for the first time, which is a positive. It just so happens that the park is in one of the more affluent parts of town, so maybe the people complaining just aren't used to having a certain type of person around.
posted by Fister Roboto at 2:30 PM on September 6, 2016 [7 favorites]




I live near Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. There's a decent number of Pokemon Go players there every evening. I've never noticed anybody littering, and I've definitely never noticed anybody shitting in the bushes.

I'm not saying it's not happening in Milwaukee, but I can't really imagine why Pokemon Go players would be more prone to this kind of misbehavior than other groups.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 3:30 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


On reflection, maybe the problem in Milwaukee is just a question of sheer volume. Centennial Olympic Park is a good spot for Pokemon, but it's not the best. There's this one strip mall parking lot out in the suburbs that's packed with people until well after midnight on weekends.

People bring coolers and set up lawn chairs. People sell cell phone chargers and stuff out of the backs of vans. It's ... remarkable. I hung out there for quite a while and didn't see any littering or anything, but I could see where a park might have a capacity problem.
posted by a mirror and an encyclopedia at 3:35 PM on September 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


If people are shitting in the bushes instead of in the bathroom, fix the bathroom problem.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:19 PM on September 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


so maybe the people complaining just aren't used to having a certain type of person around

This is absolutely true in my (anecdotal) corner of the world. The pokemon care not for how racially/socioeconomically segregated much of America is (ie, oh, say, suburban Detroit), and the players are getting concern-trolled by folks who very much do.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 4:31 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can get how someone who hadn't heard about it would think it wasn't widespread. The stories were the sorts that people not "in" would brush them off. Kind of like a whole lot of evangelical stuff, really.

Just to be extra clear, I'm responding to the claim in the article that "Panic gripped the heart of every God-fearing suburbanite in the 1980s when stories of the savage ritual abuse of children at the hands of Satanists started hitting the airwaves. "

Even giving a little leeway for obvious hyperbole, that's just not true. Of course most people had heard Satanic panic stories, but it didn't grip the heart of every God-fearing suburbanite by a long shot. There were tons of religious suburban people who didn't buy that. Some did, sure, but I'd bet that the proportion of people who then believed that Satanic Panic stuff was no larger than the proportion of people who believe similarly wacky conspiracy theories now. Hell, if you don't believe it, watch the intro to that Geraldo Rivera special linked in the very next sentence, where he says that talking about Satanic cults would get you mocked.

And Pokemon was banned in some schools, but so were Pogs and those little stretchy bracelets, and I'd bet that the list of things banned in schools is a good deal longer now than it was then. That happens pretty much whenever something gets too popular. They probably used to ban that thing where kids would push a hoop with a stick.

It's just ridiculous that an article bemoaning ignorance and alarmism is relying so heavily on those exact things to make its point.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:12 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]




Fister, Madison, WI is having a similar issue.
posted by worstname at 5:54 PM on September 6, 2016


ernielundquist: rather than trying to see whether anecdata becomes more convincing through repetition, could you perhaps dig up some real data? Many people have lived experience that it was more common than you've asserted, it got television air time, coverage in magazines with circulations in the millions, and actual court cases where people went to jail. That would tend to suggest more people believed it or chose not to speak up, and there were no shortages of doom peddlers using that to support the narrative that the world is headed downhill.

As for wacky conspiracy theories, remember how consistently something like 30% of the country responds to polls stating that outspoken Christian Obama is a Muslim despite so much evidence to the contrary. Something less thoroughly examined in an era where it was harder to check the evidence is really not that much of a stretch.
posted by adamsc at 7:32 PM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


another enclosure of the commons, except this time, they got you to do their work for free. If you don't have to pay, you are the product, and all that.

Ingress was originally developed by Google so that they could get people to reliably and robustly test their GPS location finding technology. So yes. Truer than you know.
posted by KathrynT at 11:23 PM on September 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really hate grab bag articles like this that try to throw in everything possibly related they can without really developing or sometimes even proving their points. Trying to tie together fear of satanism in the 80s with privacy concerns now is a bit of a stretch for me. In fact, that seems to be one of the main issues, trying to hand wave away concerns over data collection and security with Pokemon Go, first pretending to take them seriously, then saying it's actually not that bad, then ending with, and everyone does it anyway.
posted by blue shadows at 12:30 AM on September 7, 2016


Is there a way to see a map of some area with Pokemon: Go locations overlaid without downloading the game?

I walk around my town almost every evening and in recent months I've seen a lot more people wandering around looking at their phones, both locals and tourists. I'm kind of curious what they're looking for and what locations are nexuses for Pokemon activity but I really don't want or need another time-suck in my life.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:05 PM on September 7, 2016


One of my sisters was kind of captivated and horrified by the Satanic abuse stories in the '80s, and it eventually led to her decision to major in criminal justice in college (she is now a probation officer). Her research for a paper in high school demonstrated that there was no basis to the allegations, however, and that it was essentially a moral panic. She went from a true believer to a basic understanding of the psychology behind the panic, all because she actually did the research and took the results seriously.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:00 PM on September 7, 2016


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