Indian Girls Sign Up For Pokémon Go But Can They Play Free?

The Pokémon Go frenzy in Indian girls is spreading like wildfire. Parents, though, have an issue with the girls having fun because of patriarchal reasons.

The Pokémon Go frenzy in Indian girls is spreading like wildfire. Parents, though, have an issue with the girls having fun because of patriarchal reasons.

Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality based game, has managed to woo women of different age groups who are often seen running around to catch their favorite cartoon character. It appears on the screen as if it were in the same real-world location.

The game has not been officially launched in India but the girls have access to it through fake apps.

“It is a wonderful game. In fact, my friends and I have created a WhatsApp Group through which we keep a track of the number of Pokémon we could catch on that particular day. Our aim is to surpass the previous day’s score. This has been going on for around two weeks and is great fun. I can spend my entire day doing this,” confessed a 21-year-old Garima studying in Delhi University.

Divya Chopra, working for a company in Gurugram has some very interesting insights to offer. She says, “Sitting in the office glued to our screens can be very monotonous at times. The employees have finally found a reason to roam around in the office premises. I have observed many colleagues of mine finishing their work a bit early to utilize the remaining time catching Pokémon. It is rather hilarious to see middle aged men and women showing so much inclination towards the game.”

The game was released in July 2016 and has become a global phenomenon. Interestingly, more and more women are incorporating the game in their lifestyle as a way to shed those extra kilos. And the ones not doing it are bearing its brunt.

Tina Chawla, working with a leading bank of India, complains, “I do not carry the ideal weight people want me to have. I never pay heed to it. A few days ago, my son and I were playing this game in a nearby park when a few other mothers appreciated me for adopting an innovative way to lose weight. I was taken aback by their assumption. I was just having fun with my son. Why is every new thing in India targeted towards beautifying and toning down women?”

Families with conservative mindsets are finding it difficult to stomach the fact that their daughters are showing special interest towards the game.

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“I saw my elder daughter playing the game with some boys of the locality. Her phone, since then, has been confiscated. The atmosphere here is not good. I do not want her to become the butt of jokes. I will not return it till she deletes the game from her phone.” says Manju Tripathi, the mother of a 15-year-old daughter.

Pokemon Go 1

Fathers, too, are worried about their daughters getting caught in the frenzy and share some real-life experiences to dissuade their daughters from playing it. Gauri Shah opens up, “My father commutes through the Delhi metro on a daily basis. He returned last night and told us about a girl travelling in the same metro who, in an attempt to catch Pokémon,  maneuvered through every compartment and tripped several times before the authorities asked her not to play it. He says that Pokémon Go must go.”

Such restrictions imposed by parents on their daughter perpetuate gender inequality. While boys are found playing the game whenever and wherever they feel like, girls are forced to delete it for various cultural reasons which are illogical in nature. “It has successfully found a place in the long list of games which we are not allowed to play. I do not understand what relationship does gender and games share. How will my feminine traits get affected by this stupid game? The game has nothing to do with girls becoming uncultured. Our parents love to snowball every trivial issue associated with us,” lashes out Anjali, annoyed with society’s hypocrisy.

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A recent surge in the number of molestation cases has also raised eyebrows with regard to women’s safety. The game also requires users to throw Pokeballs, the stock of which lies at Pokestops. Since the Pokestops in India happen to be metro stations and temples, issues concerning women’s safety have become a cause of concern.

“Though the metro station is at a stone’s throw from my house, I don’t find it appropriate to venture out at odd hours just for the sake of proving my superiority over my peers. The city is full of predators and I can’t risk my safety,” asserts a 19-year- old Pooja who prefers playing the game in the afternoon when most people in her locality are indoors. She doesn’t want her neighbors to know about her obsession with the game. “They will spill the beans in front of my mother. She is averse to girls getting exposed to such nuisance and ruining their formative years.”

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Social media is also flooded with sexist memes poking fun at girls who, caught in the game’s frenzy, have started visiting temples. Many people are laughing about it and considering this game a boon for them as it is making their daughters become pious, traditional and ideal in its own way. These are particularly loathed by feminists who believe that people must be sensible enough to refrain from attaching their supposed notions of gender to games like Pokémon Go which are meant to be fun for everyone alike.

According to a news report, the game will make its official debut in India in August. While the game has already been welcomed with open arms, it will definitely take a few more months to gauge how many families are willing to let their wives, mothers and daughters play the game in its true spirit without unnecessary restrictions.

Images credit – Charvi Kathuria

Header image source: pixabay


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