It’s amazing how, even as a nearly crazed Nintendo fan, this is the first new Pokémon “game” I’ve picked up in almost 15 years. Despite this, the second people were talking about catching a Ratatat in the park or a Ghastly on the other side of the neighborhood, the names, appearances and sounds of those original 151 Pokémon came flooding back from the recesses of my brain, complete with that goofy rap song from the cartoon. When us 90’s kids were still kids, and parents reluctantly allowed Pokémon to invade their homes, we took it for granted that quite a lot of us had bonded with friend and classmates based on mutual interest in Pokémon, and for those that played games, the conversation never really went away even in high school; there was just a clear divide between those of us that had watched the cartoon, or played every new game, or just had an old small deck of trading cards. Now, that bonding has brought the world together in a way that all those kids in 1997 were, except with an additional, even more unifying device: a smartphone.
As someone who has gone on searches for Geocaches before, I’m used to the idea of looking for some random thing in public for an hour, glaring at my phone and creepily checking my surroundings, but that scavenger hunting culture is now quickly becoming normalized thanks to the use of Pokémon in an augmented reality application, and I actually hope that this gets some continuous updates, because it’s actually really nice to see photos and videos of massive crowds outside together, bonding over something on such a massive scale, and even heartwarming to see a kid post on Reddit that he’s gone walking 15 miles in one day for the first time, and is now going to invest in a bike. I kind of wish there was this kind of fun motivation when I was 12 or 13.
Ultimately, whether you think it’s silly or not, it can’t be denied that it’s only cemented the Pokémon phenomenon to reach an even broader collection of people outside of the Nintendo die hards, and makes a very, very strong case for the use of VR and ARG content outside of store demos and on the PC.
I already needed an excuse to get outside on a beautiful Cape Cod summer day, and adding a caught Magicarp to my visit to the beach, in addition to geocaches and a photo op just made the day that much more exciting. Who knows, I may end up having a Gyarados on my hands before I know it. Let’s see someone try to take over my Gym team them. – Evan Griffin, Cape Cod MA