Pokemon Go has sort of taken over the internet. I have been playing Pokemon in video and card game form for a larger chunk of my life. I still play the games and follow updates. I have a Fennekin that travels with me to Cons, bought the KFC toy Vulpix that no one would buy me as a child in a “I’m an adult i can buy what a want” moment, and even have a Vulpix vinyl decal on my car.
As much as I love the Pokemon series, and I have played many of the games and offshoot games I am actually not playing Go, which has been really interesting. My decision to not play is primarily based on the fact that I use a Windows phone, which means there is no app available for me to play. I will say that in some ways it has made things a bit easier for me. Since there have been some recent articles about how much access Go has to accounts, so not having the app has meant that I haven’t had to worry about that data the same way. Also, there are also definitely some interesting articles about what Go is actually doing with the data it collects too, which might make me think twice about playing anyway. Either way, since I can’t play I have just been watching the phenomenon from the outside and have to say it has been really interesting.
First, I have had conversations about Pokemon with people that I never would have expected. These are people who less than 6 months ago were giving me a hard time for still playing the 3DS games, and are now suddenly very interested in Pokemon evolutions or types. I’m hearing bits and pieces of conversations in restaurants and at work with Pokemon names and gym discussions mixed in, which has felt somewhat Con like for me, since that is usually only something I encounter around conventions.
Second, I have really seen the effect of the physical aspects of the game. I’ve had people in my day to day life and on social media talking about how much they have walked to find Pokemon and such. Most of these people are not people I knew to ever do anything outside or very active, so it seems like it has definitely had a positive effect in getting people up and moving. I’ve always been a pretty active person, so for me it wouldn’t actually get me walking any more, but I think it is great if it can help people get motivated to move a bit more since we are already such a sedentary society.
Third, I have seen a bunch of stories about people placing lures near children’s hospitals, signing up for groups that donate to charity based on steps that they take, or volunteering as dog walkers at animal shelters for while they are playing. Honestly this is probably my favorite part of the phenomenon. From my experiences at PAX with things like cookie brigade, operation supply drop, and child’s play I know that the gaming community can do amazing things when it comes to charity work. It has just been really rewarding to see that come into the more mainstream view, rather than just the negative stories about things like bullying and sexism in gaming.
Overall I don’t know that Go will stay popular for too long. It really wouldn’t surprise me if it dwindles pretty quickly after the initial hype wears off, especially since there really isn’t too much depth to the game right now. If the developers can introduce more aspects to the game that would help, but I feel like they had better do it quickly if they want to keep players. Either way it has definitely been a very interesting social experiment, and I am sure it will stay interesting for at least a little while.