This week’s Monday Night Gaming / MNG: Pokemon Go!
I know, I know.
Everyone and their momma is talking about Pokemon Go! but it seemed rather fitting to review it this week considering the chaos that it has brought down upon…not just gamers but everyone.
Within 24 hours of release, Pokemon Go! had more players than Twitter users. Not only that, but Nintendo stock went up $9 BILLION dollars in just a few days.
So what’s all the fuss about?
If you know anything about the Pokemon franchise, you probably know that kids and adults are pretty damn obsessed over it, but this game does something that no other game has really been able to do.
Hell, not even Michelle Obama has been able to do it in 8 years as our first lady.
In its first week, Pokemon Go has managed to:
- Get people who wouldn’t normally game to play a game
- Get people to communicate with others (even complete strangers) and join them in teams as they work together to conquer the Pokemon world
- Get people outside and moving
It’s the last two that really get me. Gamers aren’t known for being extroverted, much less active. We sit behind a console or computer most of our time and tend to hate big crowds. (Yes, this is a stereotype but in this case, it’s generally true.)
The game uses your phone’s GPS and Google Maps to create a world on your phone. As you walk around in real life, you can find Pokemon to capture. The game uses your phone’s camera to create an augmented realty game where the Pokemon show up in the real world displayed on your phone.
Basically, it’s a mix of geocaching and video games.
Here’s a rather humorous and interesting example below.
Quote from the photographer, Redditor Bringther1ot: When your wife is about to have a baby and a Pokemon shows up and you have to low-key catch it…
As you play, there are PokeStops that give you items and more pokeballs (used to capture Pokemon) and there are also PokeGyms, where you battle other players to gain control of the gym…until someone defeats you.
It seems rather simple, yet there is something about finding Pokemon in the real world that speaks to people, not to mention all the exercise you get running around trying to capture that illusive legendary.
Drive through a city…any city in the USA…and you’ll see groups of people walking around, tapping frantically on their phones.
The developers matched Pokemon to their habitats so if you go to the lake or the ocean, you’ll get more water Pokemon. Go climb a mountain or hill and get rocky, earthy Pokemon. Day and night bring out different Pokemon, as does the weather.
I’ve seen people who’ve not played a video game since Pong (if ever) wandering around my neighborhood collecting Pokemon with their kids and grand kids. For once, rather than technology alienating us and making us more prone to avoiding human interaction, this game has flipped what we know about gaming on its head. It’s sole purpose is to bring people together, much like the original Wii did upon its release.
As with any game–especially a mobile game–there are some downsides to playing. First, way too many people already text and drive. Now, some people are driving while playing. Don’t Go! and Drive! Another downside is that the game servers are a complete mess. The developers swear they didn’t think they would need larger servers (e.g. they didn’t think this many people would be playing the game). In fact, they have delayed rolling the game out in other countries because the United States, Australia, and New Zealand are eating up all the bandwidth they have and then some. In fact, a good 50% of the time, I can’t get logged into the game at all due to server overload.
Outside the driving hazard, some players have been injured crawling around for Pokemon–a twisted ankle, a broken foot–and some have almost been arrested while wandering around a park in the middle of the night. In fact, some thieves were using the game to track down other players and rob them. One player found a dead body in a lake while searching for water Pokemon.
There are conspiracy theorists out there as well, claiming the game is being used by everything from the government (to spy on us) to the Illuminati. It doesn’t help that the game accidentally granted full permission to read/download entire Google accounts. (This bug is being fixed as we speak.)
Despite its downsides, Pokemon Go has united players in a unique way and sent overweight Americans out and about. Even chronic pain sufferers and the disabled are finding ways to be more active with this game, and I can only think of this as a good thing.
If you’re one of the 1% not playing, download it and give it a go. It’s great fun.
(Pokemon GO Logo is copyright The Pokemon Company and used under fair use for review purposes only.)