When I was in high school the video game industry was exploding. Yes it had been around for a while before, but the PS2 and Xbox were just hitting their peak. Gamers were finally becoming accepted and the launch of PS3 and Xbox 360 had people excited. My group of friends were still called nerds and sometimes laughed at when we pulled out our DS’ or PSP’s to play games, but we really didn’t care.
It was during this period that I got my first taste of a craze sweeping the nation. People got excited for the new consoles, but it was one game that really turned people on: Call of Duty. A lot of people pretend to hate it today, but I remember when Modern Warfare hit a beta stage on Xbox 360? People were going absolutely insane for this game, talking about it at lunch, before school, after school. People were making plans to meetup and play it, rushing home to get into matches, and when the game released the popularity grew even larger, everyone couldn’t stop talking about COD.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt/seen this kind of fervor over a game, keeping everyone talking about it nonstop and meeting up with friends to enjoy. That changed just this past week. Once again I’m seeing friends from all over talking about a game, Facebook posts, Twitter memes, Snapchat adventures, and random crowds of people in stores and parks talking about a video game. Pokemon GO has been a sensation to say the least.
Pokemon always sells a ton of units, but it still falls into the niche market. Not many people, especially adults and teens, openly talk about Pokemon outside of their close friends. Yet when Pokemon Go released I’ve seen people of all ages go nuts over it. Walking out of a store I heard a group of teens playing the game and capturing a pokemon by the front door before going “wow, this is the coolest game ever!”
Let’s not discredit actual Pokemon games. This isn’t the best Pokemon game ever released, in fact it’s a rather poor rendition of Pokemon mechanics. However, it’s brought the core idea of the game to life in ways never done before and it’s beyond cool. If you told me as a kid that one day I could simply go for a walk and actually find a pokemon hidden in the bushes next door, I would have lost my mind. As an adult, it still holds a ridiculous amount of appeal.
Pokemon Go is a simple concept that is making people excited to get up and go explore. Before Pokemon Go released I wasn’t too inclined to walk around in the 110 heat we’ve been having here, but since release I’ve been excited for the sun to go down so I can run around the neighborhood to discover something new. I got excited when I found my first gym, and when the game incorporated actual buildings as poke stops I was thrilled. A game I grew up playing was actually a part of my real world.
We want people to go to interesting places in their cities so they can see the world around them with new eyes. Every now and then there’s a really cool mural or art installation that no-one even notices because you’re walking by looking at your phone all day and no-one actually looks at that and recognises there’s all this awesomeness all around them. We want players to have those real-world experiences either with people they know or people they meet because of the game.”(GameSpot )
This actually intrigued me because they took a building from my neighborhood and put a Pokemon twist on it. I have no idea where they got the data from since it isn’t really a hot spot, but a random building. According to my PokeStop data the building was an old tower that flying pokemon commonly hung out in, it was also used to be a watch tower scouting for Pokemon in the distance. Even the benches nearby were part of it by being a resting place for Pokemon Trainers.
These places have already attracted tons of people to them. At Pokestops you can place a device that attracts Pokemon to the area, and by doing so you also attract trainers it seems. I’ve placed on a random Park sign, and within an hour there were dozens of people in the area looking for Pokemon. This slight interaction between people is simply amazing, Pokemon has finally gotten us out and together.
I’ve also been fascinated in watching my Facebook feed slowly becoming a Pokemon Go ticker with pretty much everyone jumping in the fun. All the strange places a pokemon has popped up, the strange occurrences, and where people have been spotting specific pokemon everywhere. “A Pikachu is in the park around the block!” noted one friend.
Pokemon Go as it stands right now is a real bare bones game. Everything we love about Pokemon doesn’t exist, and yet people are loving it. I could only imagine what will happen when the game expands. Multiplayer is being considered so perhaps we will get live battles, better leveling, pokecenters for healing, who knows. It will be neat to see how we will be forced to travel in the real world to accomplish tasks from the core games. I mean this game is turning the stereotypical gamer on his head. Instead of being couch potatoes we are physically going out and exploring! It gives people another reason to take a new route to work or explore something new. If they ever add true multiplayer, then other players will begin to pop up on the map giving reason for interaction. Don’t get me wrong, I already have a FitBit and fall into the “10000 steps” crowd, but Pokemon Go makes this exercise seem more like an activity.
It was quite funny trying to catch a flying Pokemon one evening. The Zubat kept flying all over and I was turning my phone, looking everywhere trying to catch it. Then once I did I looked up and a guy was smiling at me, it’s okay I looked weird, and eventually he goes “no worries, I’ve been playing it too!” In fact it made me put my phone away like normal and look around only to notice not only was he playing the game, but lots of people were and they were getting together to check out what everyone was finding. Imagine when a Charizard or something major pops up and crowds of people group together trying to find it again.
AR games have been around for ages; this is nothing new. However sometimes a popular name needs to be thrown on the cover to make people take notice, and that seems to be what Pokemon Go has done. It isn’t a perfect game, it has plenty of room to evolve, but it’s still addicting and fun as it stands. It has been rather neat to see the video game world create a global get together.