With the Pokémon storm finally calmed it’s time to have a real talk. Pokémon GO is an ableist game. Even after its week-long massive popularity spike, this mobile game managed to create its own downfall once it was revealed the game isn’t so pro everyone!
The game is obviously brightly coloured in order to attract children to play their game, but is this always a positive? No. What is happening here is catering to one person whilst forgetting the other. Those who cannot see colours, or are unable to distinguish colours clearly, have a serious disadvantage whilst playing the game. During the Pokémon catch scene, there is an indication based on different colours which can help you decide which Pokeball would be best. But those who suffer from colourblindness wouldn’t be able to see this indication clearly and fail at the most basic thing Pokémon are known for.
To continue, there is also another situation of colours not being correctly used is during the pokestops. Yep, it doesn’t stop! Pokestops, you know, where you get items like poke balls to CATCH Pokémon? They use different shades of purples and blues to indicate when a pokestop is used or not, the colours are MEANT to help you, however, those who cannot clearly see those two colours as separate things will spend minutes spinning like crazy wondering “why am I not getting anything?”. They clearly had the assets to make a pokestop icon for when it is in range or not, so why couldn’t they display more than a pokestop is used?
To talk more about the pokemon catching system, it’s hard. When I played it I couldn’t get a single ball in. Why? It’s all down to skill. I understand that throwing a ball at an animal may be tough but when you throw in a straight like you don’t expect it to flick off to the side! Now, this is obviously difficult for an abled body like me, so imagine someone with less mobility in their arms/hands/fingers! Within a few weeks a product to help people catch pokemon came out and that shouldn’t exist! This is clear exploitation of the differently-abled to be able to make money! I can just imagine the boatloads of cash that these greedy companies leached from poor innocent disabled pokemon hunters just wanting a chance to catch their favourite bug type.
Now, let’s talk about another important mechanic within the game, gyms. If you remember gyms in the base games, they’re a place to test your power as the best slave-owner in the region, so obviously they’d be included in GO! Now in order to stay at the gym, you need tough Pokémon. How do you toughen them up? Well by walking around. This is the only way you can possibly get tougher Pokémon, how is this fair on any level? Those who cannot walk around would be unable to level up or find better Pokémon and be beaten out by an abled body. This means that if you’re hard of walking, you’ll never actually be able to hold a gym thanks to those who can walk easily, ganging together to ensure nobody gets a chance. The main features of Pokémon Go are based on mobility! And they fail to have any leeway for disabled people to be able to take or defend a gym.
And you know this isn’t the only issue with mobility. If you also remember back to the Pokémon games, when you got eggs, they’d hatch depending on how many steps your character took. Now it’s been completely overhauled to JUST walking. Eggs are a reliable way to getting strong Pokémon with good stats but being unable to properly go outside to walk to the desired distances of up to 10 km (try going 10 km in a wheelchair) causes a lot of issues for those who simply cannot walk.
Pokemon GO! Should be made more accessible to the masses, all should be able to go out and play this game that supposedly claims it’s for everyone. First step? Have a disabled verification system, this would allow abled bodies to only catch a limited amount of Pokémon in a set time, because well, they don’t deserve it. And maybe add features that can help disables persyns move around in the game without risking their health. Second step? Stop making pokemon so hard to catch. Not everyone can walk anywhere they’d like, so that pokemon being programmed to spawn by a set of stairs or an oddly shaped room isn’t a good move. Change it.