Pokemon Go Gets Political
It is a fact of life then whenever anything becomes culturally significant, that significance reverberates into the political field. Pokemon Go is no exception to this rule. As perhaps the only phenomenon generating more interest and discussions than the upcoming U.S. presidential election, the game was always bound to become a tool for politicians and politically-concerned citizens alike, both in the U.S. and in the international sphere.
Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and their respective teams, have already utilized Pokemon Go in their campaigns. Only a few days after the games' release, Trump's team aired a short ad titled "Crooked Hillary No," spoofing the popular mobile game and capitalizing on the recent furor surrounding Clinton's email scandal. When asked if he had actually played the game, however, Trump replied that "[he wished he] had the time," but had not actually tried it out. Good news for those who currently control Trump Tower, as there's no doubt that the billionaire business mogul would balk at the prospect of anyone leading his famed tower but himself, and willingly stomp any-mon in his way.
Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign recently hosted a voter registration event at "Madison Park PokeStop & PokeGym" in Ohio. PokeStops have quickly become useful gathering places for communities and those hoping to reach out to as many people as possible. Thus, it comes as no surprise that political campaigns have begun to use the stops for their events, and we should expect other organizations and churches to soon follow suit.
Finally, Pokemon Go has worked its way into international politics as well. After the game finally released in Japan this week, many Chinese players, who may never see their own release, hacked their GPS systems so that they could play the game on Japanese servers. Several players quickly moved in to take over the gym at Yasukuni shrine, which is controversial for its commemoration of war criminals from World War II and the Sino-Japanese Wars. China in particular finds the presence of the war criminals, as well as visits to the shrine by top Japanese officials, highly offensive, given the atrocities committed by many Japanese soldiers during the country's offensive in China. As such, it comes as no surprise that the Chinese citizen who took over the shrine's gym decided to name his Dragonite guarding the gym "Long Live China!!"
Pokemon Go's relevance clearly extends beyond the day-to-day and into the political arena. The app has already been used by both presidential campaigns and everyday citizens to spread their political message and shame the opposition. Whether the game is destined to become a tool of the oppressors or rallying call of the revolution remains to be seen, but in the meantime, its impact on society will continue to grow, changing our social interactions, cultural exchanges, and political experiences.