Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Pokémon Shock

So, after having a half dozen people explain (and one demonstrate) exactly what this Pokémon Go business is, I think I finally understand. And while it's a neat use of technology and augmented reality, I just don't see myself getting hooked. But what do I know, I'm not a gamer*.
What I am hooked on, is the news surrounding this app. Car accidents? Robberies? Dead bodies?

This isn't the first time Pokémon has caused injury to its fans. Back in 1997, at the height of Pokémon popularity, an episode aired in Japan that sent nearly 700 children to the hospital.

The episode was call "Electric Soldier Porygon", and towards the end of the episode, Pikachu uses lightning to blow up some missiles. Animators illustrated this using a rapid strobing technique which flashed red-to-blue to make the explosion look virtual.

The flashing colors had immediate effects – children passed out, or experienced blurred vision. Some even suffered from seizures and temporary blindness. Most of the 685 children that were taken by to hospitals recovered quickly, but a few were diagnosed with epilepsy, triggered by the lighting effect.
"Pokémon Shock" was the result of a strobe lighting. 1 in 4000 people suffered from photosensitive seizures. And since over 4 million kids were watching the episode, the effects were vast. 

After this incident, Pokémon went off the air for 4 months to evaluate their animation techniques. The episode never aired in the US. 

Nintendo stock took a major hit. Unlike this week, when Pokémon Go has their stock rocketing up this week. (And small business are even turning the Pokémon Go fad into creative marketing opportunities.)

Want to see the "Pokémon Shock" clip? Do so at your own risk!

*Also, I've never seen an episode of Pokémon, so I'm still not entirely sure what a Pikachu is....

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