Oh Pokémon Go, where does one begin? From bright highway signs telling drivers not to ‘Pokémon and drive’ to kids walking into police stations seeking certain breeds, it has truly taken over the world. Becoming a Pokémon trainer has long been a dream for all who played the game, and now it has become an augmented reality thanks to the technological advancements in the palm of our hands. But what are the reasons why this sensation has become so essential to everyday life?
It’s getting people out into the world, it’s making exploration in a globalized world fun again and it is bringing back the nostalgia of a time we thought had long been buried. The crazy creatures of our childhood have returned in 3D dodging our Pokéballs, fluttering in a train or sitting on our dinner tables. Dead bodies are being discovered, and mass murderers everywhere are shaking their heads in disbelief. We have become detectives, driven by a cause to catch them all, reliving a great game and bringing it to the world we live in. There is no limitation, the updates are coming with 600 more beasts, people crave new challenges and the potential of fan-created Pokémon is causing a stir. Add to this the fact that the game never leaves us, and you have an absolute juggernaut of an app that nobody really expected…oh that element of surprise, perhaps that’s just another reason for the success.
Here are the top 15 reasons why Pokémon Go has transcended fiction and taken over the world as we know it.
15. It Makes Walking The Dog Fun
Whether it’s the parents, your partner, your children or the furry creature itself, someone is always demanding you to walk the dog. Now the dog is tired because you’ve been out there catching Pokémon and dragging the family pet through Pokémon-infested terrain. And as you stand there, tossing balls at potential catches, the poor dog wonders what is happening. But in truth Pokémon Go makes venturing outside more enjoyable, especially for the hardcore gamer. Having the dog as a companion during the catch, battle or hatch makes the experience all the more enjoyable, like your own little Pikachu tagging along for the ride. For if you fail in a fight or capture attempt, at least you have a real creature that will protect you should harm leap out from that dark corner.
14. It Adds Reality To A Loved Game
Pokémon has always been popular on handheld devices, but fans have dreamed of a console edition that sees them walking through a Pokémon-infested world more immersive than the 2D style. Well, the console version was skipped for the augmented-reality app that makes a person explore a world full of the creatures stalking the screen. They may not actually be present, but having a Rattata or Pidgey scurry around on your phone’s camera makes it as real as social media, Snapchat and anything else your personal form of communication can provide. Walking around in-game seeking creatures is one thing, but venturing into the real world hoping to find your favourite Pokémon makes the trainer-desire rise to fanboy levels.
13. The Sense Of Nostalgia
It is no wonder that the majority of Pokémon Go players fall between 21-30 years old as the original forms, Red and Blue, were released two decades ago. No matter what has happened since those coloured cartridges were the greatest part of the franchise and this game contains those original 151 Pokémon in 3D formats inhabiting the world. People feel transformed back to their childhood, and feel fine about it since everyone else has the same feeling of nostalgia. It’s viewed as acceptable for a 26-year-old electrician to be hunting for Nidoran while taking a smoke break from the site. It’s not frowned upon for an accountant to catch a few Pidgeys on his walk to the corner café, heck it might even be encouraged. Nostalgia is in the air, and we’re all feeling like 90s kids trying to become the greatest trainer of them all.
12. The Updates
Even though at the present time you cannot battle a friend or trade Pokémon with them, the updates are coming. These updates have people so excited that they continually upgrade their Pokémon so when the time comes, they’ll be prepared for battle. But as with any juggernaut, there won’t just be one update. When you consider there are more than 750 Pokémon in actuality, that means we’ve only seen a fifth of what the game can offer us. Each update may only release another 30 Pokémon, but it will have every trainer out there catching these new specimens. The creators are smart, why watch all your eggs hatch at once? When another game tries to overtake the popularity of Pokémon Go, they will send forth their minions to retake the crown. It’s such a powerful way to conquer the market…it’s almost Mewtwo-like.
11. How Accessible It Is
The game is everywhere, all around you. A fan doesn’t have to sit at work all day dreaming of their console and what awaits. They can just venture to another part of the building/classroom/playground/worksite to discover something new. Accessibility is all the rage, just look at the role of citizen journalism and social media in society. Pokémon Go taps into this with a Pikachu following your every move. Your phone even vibrates when something is around, it never stops, so it barely feels like a game. Sure, you can turn your location settings off, but what will you miss? One day at work I thought of turning off my GPS because of a work meeting. I decided against it, putting the phone on silent instead. Because I was first into the meeting, I was able to pull out my phone and catch the wild Lapras, which was a Pokémon I couldn’t seem to find elsewhere.
10. It’s Social
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Myspace all created a technologic meeting place where everyone could project a better self. New friends were made, barriers were crossed, lives were changed. But in the end, everyone was still behind a screen. Pokémon Go changes that. All events may still be on screen, but you’re interacting with the real world through a lens. In addition to this, like-minded people are finding one another on fields, at the beach, in alleyways…ok, so it’s not always safe, but doesn’t that add to the appeal? Using Lures also means groups of trainers will form at a given place. This isn’t a silent meeting and what starts as a discussion about Pokémon Go, may soon become an exchange of a phone number (or social media account), or even a date. The gamer demographic has often struggled with this aspect of interaction, but through the unlikely source of Pokémon, the trainers are finding a voice.
We all love to gloat; look at my car, my house, my family…my Pokémon, my stats, my distance travelled. Gaming inspires competition, and competition is what made online gaming such a hit. How did sporting games survive without that online component? While as yet you cannot just battle any old person, the updates are coming. And when they do, competition will send people to new lengths. Pokémon is built on beating another person, gym battles, random battles, strong opponent and bitter rivals. Winning is the only aspect of the game that rises above catching them all. Why else would Charizard be such a required entity? Questions are being raised: will the fights be reminiscent of the old Digimon devices whereby you walk up to someone, connect, and fight to the death (essentially)? When the battles begin, so will real life violence. Don’t doubt it. If your Charmander fails to win, you’ll burn out his tail yourself. The card game and video games already have huge competitive gaming markets, it’ll only be a matter of time until Pokémon Go gets the same attention.
8. Exploring The Unknown
Some of us are natural explorers, excited by the great outdoors, new terrain, random encounters, and wildlife. Others…not so much, but Pokémon Go has discovered the urge in even the most recluse individual. One minute you’re in a busy street, the next you’re by a lake, and then you’re trekking through grass fields. Who knows what you’ll stumble upon next? Raising the requirement to explore your surroundings increases your love of a region. Pokémon Go is boosting the travel industry and the connections people feel to their hometown. On one online forum, people were debating about why their suburb is the best place to hunt for Pokémon. Imagine the new tourism advertisements…come to Melbourne, where you’ll find hundreds of Blastoise by the MCG!
7. It’s Free(dom)
We live in a money hungry world. The latest Apple product sets you back a few months’ pay, but Pokémon Go is completely free (save for internet charges, which can’t be helped). All someone has to do is jump on the app store, click download and you’re ready to play without annoying card details, constant in-app purchases or other hidden charges. Now don’t get us wrong, you can still spend money (as seen above), you just don’t have to, to have a great time.
Your favourite 90s game comes to life when even two decades ago you had to beg your parents for a Gameboy and a Red or Blue version (good luck to anyone who managed to get both). Freedom takes over the world, and it’s the perfect boredom cure. The other day, while on public transport I caught 17 different Pokémon, what a time to be alive.
6. Because Of The News Stories
We’ve heard of people finding dead bodies, men luring youths to a certain location through an actual Lure, dealers being caught during a drug deal, highway warnings, weird accidents due people focusing on the game, and people are dressing up their own pets as their favourite Pokémon…it’s insane. Politicians are even discussing the game in their address to capture more attention, even though they likely don’t know what a Pokeball is or what colour Pikachu is. People are sporting bruises and breaks, cars are piling up, sections of the city are being overrun with crazed fans and kids are knocking on the doors of strangers because there’s a Drowzee hiding in the backyard. No longer is it weird to be seen walking around a park at 3am alone…
5. The Diversity Of Creatures
This isn’t just some angry birds, minions or transformers, there is a range of types, sizes, colours, abilities, personalities and levels of value to discover. Each Pokémon has a story and background. It is these bits of folklore that help give a personality to the creatures that we all know and love. There are pathetic pests, like Rattata, mysterious entities in Mewtwo, simple birds in Pidgey, complex monsters in Gengar, deep sea creatures in Cloyster, insects, starfish, three-headed birds, rocks, dragons, fairies, boxers, kickboxers…there really is no end. This diversity has always made Pokémon a juggernaut, but in Pokémon Go it allows this sensation to take over the world as we know it. Go to the beach and you’ll find a Lapras, go to grassland and you’ll find a Weedle, this is the key to the game, and maybe even a key to life!
4. The Element Of Surprise
Nothing…nothing…nothing…BOOM, a Spearow! Your phone just vibrates to alert you. What will I find if I go in there? Perhaps the police, seeing as though some kids walked into an Australian Police Station trying to find a Wartortle. Sure, people have been posting maps all over the internet trying to ruin such a surprise, but most are ignoring the attempt. Pokémon Go is based on not knowing what lies ahead. Seeing a rustle in the bushes on screen pushes a player out of the house and towards the park across the street. Knowing that it’s only a Meowth ruins the fun of the app. Unfortunately, people take the surprises too far by playing the game while driving down a highway or crossing a congested street. For some people catching that Pokémon is well worth putting their life in danger, but they should probably re-evaluate their choices.
3. There Is No Limitation
Go anywhere. Find anything. Play anywhere. Be sure of the coming updates. I am yet to find a limitation in the world of Pokémon Go that won’t be solved by a promised update in the near future. There is no reason to stop playing, so people continue to do so, aware that the next 600 Pokémon will be released soon. There is no environment in a place with GPS coverage that won’t be impacted by Pokémon. How can a game that doesn’t cost money, provide no limitation in a gaming sense? Genius. Be honest, during the reading of this list you’ve pulled out your phone to check something on Pokémon Go…it’s that addictive. There is a fan theory circulating on the internet that adds even more mayo to the bun (so to speak), it is being touted that an app will be released where fans can create their own Pokémon from scratch and release them into the wild. A setting on your phone lets you decide whether you only want to see original Pokémon, or if you would also like to catch fan-made Pokémon, now where’s the limitation in that? Just try not to get too addicted.
2. Anyone Can Play
From 80-year-old grandmas to 6-year-old school children, it has swept the world. Seeing a wild Scyther will cause a kid to run outside and a businessman to take an early lunch. Age has been removed. It isn’t a game only known to teens, because those in their twenties, thirties and forties had an obsession with Pokémon decades ago. In addition to this, the game isn’t difficult. Spend 5 minutes on there, or spend your entire weekend catching creatures…it’s totally up to the player, making it a casual AND hardcore game. How many games can boast this feat? Some want to catch all 151 Pokémon, others want to own gyms, some try to reach all Pokéstops, some are focused on hatching eggs. Diversity and approachability have increased the appeal. Adding to the reasons to play is curiosity, so many people are playing this game, why aren’t I? Am I missing something? Good old FOMO (fear of missing out) does wonderful things.
1. You Can Be A Trainer
Let’s be honest, this is the biggest appeal of them all and is the real reason Pokémon Go has conquered the world. As kids we all dreamed of being Ash Ketchum in our own suburb, catching Pokémon and battling our friends. We made do with Gameboys and cords and Digimon devices and online gaming, but nothing quenched at insatiable thirst. We’d catch bugs, lock them in jars and watch them fight, just to please our appetite. But Pokémon Go has given gamers what they’ve been craving for decades. It has brought back the feeling we missed for so long, untouched by the other attempts of the previous few years. You can catch a Bulbasaur, evolve it to a Ivysaur, get it to a Venusaur and take over every gym in the vicinity. Growth, satisfaction and nostalgia…what a combination.