Soooooo, yeah…this Pokémon Go thing kinda blew up overnight, didn’t it?!
I was hanging out with my cousin at the Victoria Pride Festival and saw her looking down at her phone, as she was looking at what appeared to be a Google Map, she asked me, “are you collecting Pokémon?” I kinda knew what she was talking about as I remember seeing a few tweets and status updates on Facebook about it, but it wasn’t until the next 24 hours that I noticed it going supernova on social media.
If you’re like me and just starting to catch on, hopefully this’ll give you a sort of Cole’s Notes look at this recent trend and help you (not necessarily accept, but) understand the appeal of Pokémon Go!
For some, we may have to start from scratch, so here’s a quick rundown on the world of Pokémon.
A Brief History of Pokémon
Pokémon is an abbreviated name of its original Japanese title, “Pocket Monsters”. It started off as a series of video games published by Nintendo for the original Game Boy.
The basic concept of the Pokémon universe actually stems from the hobby of insect collecting (however, in this case, what’s being collected are…um, monsters). Participants in the Pokémon League (otherwise known as Pokémon Trainers) have to collect as many (or all) of the available species of Pokémon and train them to compete against other Pokémon owned by other trainers.
Fast forward through a few decades of successful video games, trading card games, animated television shows, movies, comic books and toys and that would bring us to the smart phone app, Pokémon Go.
So WTF is Pokémon Go?
“Technically, it’s a free-to-play, location-based, augmented reality, multiplayer online mobile game that also supports its own custom wearable tech. Huh?”
–John Davidson, RollingStone.com
Pokémon Go is still very much a Pokémon game and has the same basic concept of other Pokémon games/stories: seek out the critters, catch them, train them and battle with them. The Pokémon Go app uses the real world (via your phone’s GPS function) to enhance your game experience.
The Google Map within the app (modified to look, Pokémon-y, I guess) is your primary game board. Your character moves in the game as you walk around in real life. As you walk around and explore the digital world within the physical world (still with me), you’ll stumble upon what’s known as PokéStops (which is where you can catch a Pokémon).
Still with me?! Ok then, let’s keep going…
Catching/Collecting The Pokémon:
The Pokémon will show up at random, and if you enable the app to notify you whenever a Pokémon is near, you can then stop yourself in your tracks to capture it without having to compete with any other players for them. My hope is that if I ever get into this, I just DON’T stop myself in my tracks whilst crossing the street!
Another thing you might notice is that certain Pokémon will cluster in certain spots. For example, fire Pokémon tend to be found near gas stations, grass Pokémon in parks, and ghost Pokémon after dark (though, the parent in me feels somewhat concerned at someone running around after dark capturing digital monsters on their phone).
The more Pokémon you catch, the more points you score as a trainer. You also score points when you rack up free items at PokéStops, or when you evolve your Pokémon.
Training/Battling The Pokémon:
Once you’ve gained enough experience points to reach Level 5, you can train your Pokémon at the nearest Gym, marked by a weird-looking laser tower in your map. The Gym will usually be found near a local landmark.
Those who choose not to download this app, you’ll likely notice a “Pokémon Gym” when you see a bunch of people circling a physical landmark whilst thumbing at their phones! Haha!
From there (much like Pokémon in other media) you can take your Pokémon to battle!
Pokémon Go as a fashion statement!
That’s right! This app will also make available an official Pokémon Go “wearable” to make capturing Pokémon a lot easier, more efficient (and safer).
A lot of people are already used to walking around all day staring down at their phones…which is not always the safest thing to do when walking around a busy city. This app is likely going to increase that habit!
Well, if you don’t mind wearing a Pokéball on your wrist, this $35 device will make it easier for you to catch a Pokémon without having to look at your phone. The device pairs with your phone via Bluetooh and will buzz when you’re near a Pokémon. That way, instead of stopping, pulling out your phone, opening the app and capturing the Pokémon, you can hit the middle button on your cool, looking wrist device and capture the Pokémon automatically.
Because, c’mon…I don’t want this app to make me look like a stupid, obsessed consumer!
Funny thing…this all started as an April Fool’s Joke!
Yeah, that’s right…check out the original April Fool’s video from 2014 created by Google and the late CEO of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, along with Tsunekazu Ishihara of the Pokémon Company:
Where will it all go from here?
As much as I sometimes make light of this recent phenomenon, I was telling Pol & Jason this morning that I don’t see it going away anytime soon.
There are going to be an incredible amount of marketing applications for this game that this already gigantic snowball is going to continue to grow and become unstoppable. I’m willing to bet that not long from now, there will be rare Pokémon only available at certain retail locations, etc.
As to whether or not, I’ll be participating…I really want to, it looks like a lot of fun. Will it threaten my ability to be a good father to my children…that’s a great question. Mmmmmaybe, I might hold off for the moment……..at least another week!