Different take on Customers; Dutch officials are stupid

Last time we were a bit late, so let’s be few posts early with this one. To those who are new, Different take on Customers flips the pro-consumer stance I usually have and discuss the other side of the coin. This time, I’m calling all consumers dumb idiots. Yes, even you. Especially when you’re walking around with your smartphone and ruining national treasures.

The recent news about Dutch officials wanting to sue Niantic and Pokémon Company for the ruination of their windswept beaches. This is retarded for three different reasons, the first being that neither aforementioned companies are not responsible of what people do when they’re outside hunting Pokémon. They should sue the people for behaving in a destructive manner because those people are responsible of their actions. You don’t sue an ice cream company because somebody stole ice cream from a vendor a gun manufacturer if somebody shoots a guy. Somewhat weak comparisons for sure, but gets the point across.

The second reason is that Dutch officials themselves are responsible for shitting things up on the beaches. Few months ago Kijkduin got a Pikachu pole, revealed by none other than Rachid Guernaoi of D66 party. Hell, according to a news report, the officials at Kijkduin marketed the place as the official Pokémon Go of the Netherlands. The idea was to boost the local economy, as the beaches seemed to get a lot of rare Pokémon for whatever reason. The officials essentially wanted to take advantage of the situation. It seemed to do the trick, attracting lots of people who would buy fries and soda while trying to catch whatever monsters they could muster. Hell, even the local police Tweeted about the pole.

The promotion worked like charm, and the beaches were swarmed with Pokémon Go players, which boosted the economy, but also began to destroy the sands because customers are idiots who don’t think what they’re doing as long as it’s self-serving. Both the players and Dutch officials are idiots who didn’t stop thinking twice what the hell they were doing. Kijkduin’s officials should’ve stopped twice to think what they were getting into. That is the third reason, shifting the blame. Dutch officials took no efforts to protect the beaches or put up any sort of supervision to control that the players would not screw the place up. Because the realisation came too late, they opted to sue the companies. I highly doubt their case would’ve stood in the court, seeing Kijkduin and Dutch officials themselves promoted the place to an extreme extend. The whole deal is ridiculous bullshit. Carry your own responsibility, Kijkduin.

It doesn’t help that few other places have requested to remove Pokémon spawning from their area. The Pokémon themselves are not the problem, it’s the people playing the game. They are a good case study of consumers who have no self-control and simply run anywhere to get what they want. This can be compared to women trying to shop clothes at a flash sale during Black Friday or when somebody shoots another for their brand new game console. People with certain cars and mindset may have a tendency to speed far past the allowed limit, while someone with a knife may start slashing somebody.

Companies produce goods that make all things possible. As long as an item is used in its intended and recommended way and the consumer is conscious that he is not harming himself or others, everything should be good. That’s the assumption. In reality, either because of ignorance, stupidity or intention almost every piece of equipment is misused to some extent, causing possibly dangerous situations. A beer bottle was never intended to be used as an anal toy, but that’s a fetish you can find videos of. Companies need to consider these things in a serious manner and build their products so that even when misused they could still be safe. So yes, a company producing bottle would need to make their bottles sturdy enough with as little sharp edges as possible in order not to cause any sort of cuts from their product, because people will misuse the bottle, especially if it’s shaped in a certain way.

It doesn’t help that people are ignorant of the products they use, unwilling to educate themselves to use them and gain knowhow. Understandable, not everyone can invest enough time to understand what’s the difference between file and a program, but for the love of God it would do some good.

Let’s be fair, people aren’t dumb. We just don’t think at times, and when we do, we usually think beside the point or make the wrong call. The consumers of game industry are no different, and we can’t blame the industry for their consumers’ actions. Unless they are actively promoting and telling people do damaging actions, the onus is always on the consumer or those on the general consuming end. The deal with Kijkduin and Pokémon Go frustrates me because there are nobody gaining any benefit from the current situation. Kijkduin will see less visitors now while their beaches are already fucked up, Niantic had to remove the spawns from there and the players lost a great spot where to catch some rarities. All because the Dutch officials rode the wave but didn’t think things through at all. Customers never do.

I produced a knife at one time for a customer. Not a fancy one by any degree, one of my early ones with a very simple design. The blade wasn’t too good either, but it did its job and cut well enough. I had to spend more hours on producing a leaflet on knife care, which I have to renew now and then. On top of that, I had to explain the customer how to take care of the knife, oiling it at least every month and so on. Few months later, I heard back from the customer, asking me why I had made the knife so sharp. Her son had cut himself open accidentally while he was using it as a screwdriver and she blamed it on the knife.

Providers can’t change the fact that their products will be misused or could be used as a justification for bad behaviour. It’s something we all need to live with and take precautions as needed.

Pokémon Go baffles the right people

I can’t get enough out of people who think Pokémon Go screws with some people’s minds. Slate has a post that quotes itself in large typeface Pokémon Go is turning a traditionally sedentary pastime into an active one. This month’s theme was gaming history and culture, a theme that this blog is about one-fourth about, and I went through very shortly on how gaming was always about going out there and meeting with people. Saying that Pokémon Go is suddenly turning something that has always been about mingling with people into mingling with people is absolutely ridiculous.

This is what a hardcore gamer sounds like, unable to understand that gaming has been a social interaction first and foremost. Traditionally you had to go outside to play games. It wasn’t until home game consoles before you could play electronic games inside.


Nobody is playing inside here, they had to come here somehow, most likely by walking or bike. Go back thirty years and you have people playing pinball

 

Hudson’s post on Slate also somehow implies that going outside is risky. There have been the occasional freak accident, but those are nothing out of ordinary. People finding dead bodies is uncommon but it happens, Pokémon Go or not. The same applies with muggings, people getting hit by car and so on. Complaining that augmented reality makes you vulnerable to the real world is idiotic at best. It goes without saying that you should always mind your surroundings, no matter what. It’s not the game’s fault if people are stupid enough not to do that.

Then you have the argument about some people not being able to play Pokémon Go. Let’s be fair, there are some people with certain disabilities that most likely can’t enjoy the game, yet that should not be taken from the those who can. Just like how a man couldn’t go outside and play Pokémon Go because of his skin colour is wondrous example of co-opting a game for your agenda because of its popularity. Hell, this news even leaves out the ending of that Reddit story about police coming to bunch of people playing Pokémon Go, where the guys show the cops how to play the game and start doing so. If anything, the game has shown a way to break down boundaries and connected people from all walks of life.

The whole Mary Sue article cited towards the end of the post raises more questions about the social anxiety issues Myers has than anything else. Talking to people is normal, pretending to do others things to push people away is just sad. Nothing ever prevented Myers from asking what this man wants, and proceeding to ask him not to bother her. These are the kind of people who find everything offensive, and it’s a riot to watch Pokémon Go messing with them. If people can’t do normal social interaction, perhaps it is best to stay inside. Except, like I mentioned in the previous post, people have been getting over their anxieties with Pokémon Go. This hobby has been traditionally moving people out of their home even before it had mechanics or electronics embedded to it. We’re seeing yet another rhyme in history. After all…

By gosh, it's a Pinball!
“By gosh, it’s a Pinball!”

And we know what others wanted to do to pinball.

How dare you have fun on my watch!
How dare you have fun on my watch!

Monthly Three: Pokémon Go and home

If television and game consoles were a way to keep young people at home, away from arcades and other unfavoured places, Pokémon Go is the complete opposite. It doesn’t only endorse people to go outside, but also to mingle with each other. It is a common factor that people can share. Game culture has never been only for certain sect of people, it has always been for everyone.

Pokémon Go throws out the notion of nerds sitting inside their homes. It shows that everybody plays electronic games and the notion of hardcore is meaningless. Some people have taken the hunt to the point of canoeing in the middle of a lake just to battle a Gym there. That’s hardcore, and these are your normal everyday people. Not computer geeks or the like.

Pokémon Go is essentially anti-VR, and companies should take notice of this. VR requires you to sit inside and walk inside your room in a virtual reality, but what’s the point when you can walk outside much cheaper, in real world, while catching Pokémon? Nobody wants to pay 800 dollars to walk inside your own room. Virtual reality takes you into another world, so to speak. Pokémon Go makes you to the real world. VR can’t beat real world.

The best thing about Pokémon Go is that it picks up the best parts of both boys’ and girls’ cultures. There is competition, but it’s friendly and interactive. People interact with each other, and not just via messages. Completely unknown people talk to each other and tell tales, often helping each other.

Electronic games have always been about being social. From fares and events to penny arcades, from game parlors to game arcades and ultimately, to bars and shopping malls, game culture has never been a hobby of the few. Even with consoles they tended to have a strong multiplayer element to them. Super Mario Bros. again as an example with its two-player mode. From the very beginning, electronic game culture has been people going out. Television didn’t beat it, neither did home consoles. Handheld gaming is not popular only because of the good games, but because it is portable and allows completely unknown people to meet with each other. Hell, I remember trading with and battling few strangers on a bus trip in the late 1990’s.

What’s the key in Pokémon Go? It adds to reality, it does not try to replace it. The same applied to Wii’s remote. The hardcore or the game industry can’t fathom this because they’re too deep up their ass to realize that game and play culture is universal, everybody is part of it. Expansion of gaming audience at its core is the same thing as putting Donkey Kong into a bar. Whenever somebody mentions about normies, it’s best to laugh at them and point out that they are the normies. They are taking part in thousands of years of cultural tradition of people playing games. From cultural point of view, there is nothing new about Pokémon Go. Games are entertainment for the masses, not for the secluded. The technological advances have allowed this form of electronic gaming to happen. Remember Skannerz?

latest

Skannerz’ idea at its basic concept is very similar. Find creatures in nature (barcodes) and battle other people. There are multiple games on both Android and Apple app stores that still do this. Pokémon Go of course has sixteen years of tech development in its favour. The scale is a bit different, as Skannerz was deemed just a child’s toy, Pokémon is a cultural phenomena that has seeped through layer after layer. Pikachu and friends are synonymous with gaming to the same extent as Pac-Man and Mario. After all, gaming is not sub-culture. Playing games is high culture.

It’s not just culturally interesting game. Pokémon Go has helped people to get over anxiety issues. Both Twitter and Tumblr have posts about people having easier time to interact with others through the game. Fresh air really does that too, just getting outside can do wonders. The same applies to depression. This is the same effect we heard in Pinball Wizard going through.

Despite the game encouraging interaction, it does not force it in itself. Within games like The Sims, character interaction is very strict, inorganic. This sort of digital interaction through does not replace, and can not replace real world discussion and interactions. This is why multiplayer games have always been popular on consoles. MMORPGs are all about human interaction as well.

Whether or not Pokémon Go will be a flash in the pan will be an open question, but it has already left its mark. It’s bigger than Wii Sports, as people can just jump in without a console and use their existing phone. If console makers would take notice of this, they’d realise that using existing hardware instead of pushing new for the sake of hardware power would benefit everyone, but they don’t want games. They want better hardware for the sake of hardware.

It’s the biggest mobile phone game we’ve seen thus far, which more or less tells about the quality of mobile games than anything else. Most importantly, Pokémon Go is a testament on how complex game systems are reserved for the small audience. All the games that have made a large impact on the cultural facet have been dead simple. The usual examples apply, from Pong onwards.

This is Nintendo at its best. This happens when Nintendo returns to their arcade roots. Not in physical form, but in terms of accessibility and cultural approachability. Electronic gaming needs to go back outside after few decades of staying inside.