(I had some other idea for a post the other day, but I can’t remember what it was anymore, so I can’t very well write about it. So let’s talk about this other thing. 🙂 )
So if you live on the Internet like I do, then you’ve probably noticed the massive influx of posts regarding the augmented reality (AR) mobile phone game, PokémonGO. As if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and were suddenly silenced as they stared at the downloading progress bar. (That’s how the quote goes, yeah?) I will admit, as soon as I found out that the app had launched, I launched myself at the App Store to download it. I’ve been excited for PokéGO ever since I heard that it was being developed. I suppose I wasn’t quite expecting the huge outburst it mustered–though I seem to be one of the only ones who wasn’t surprised by the server lag. (Come on. Really?)
But still, the whole phenomenon amuses me.
I’ve been in the Pokémon fandom, such as it is, pretty much since its US inception. It’s celebrating its 20th birthday this year, which puts the launch right around my 2nd grade year when I was given a Pokémon Red strategy guide–before I actually owned the game, or a Game Boy–and I came close to memorizing it by the time I could actually buy the game. (To my memory, whoever bought me the guide didn’t realize it was a strat guide and just thought it was a book. Ah well.) I fully admit to being the Old Pokémon Fan now who sits around and grumps about how In My Day, there were only 151 Pokémon. (Because anyone who doesn’t count Mew is a traitor to the cause.)
But this is me, and while I know that my college friends and I still love us some Pokémon, that didn’t necessarily mean that the rest of the world followed us.
Looking around, though, I still see people my age talking about the announcement about Pokémon Sun and Moon–along with the younger generation as well. We’ve almost come to the point (God save me from this fact) that us original trainers are raising our own Pokémon trainers. It’s entirely possible for someone my age to have a ten year old child, and as we all know (lol), that’s how old you have to be to get your first Pokémon. And when that app released, we were all ten years old again, getting our first Bulbasaur or Squirtle or Charmander. We all were. From the twenty-eight year old to the ten year old, we were all new trainers again, together.
I’ve seen several articles and stories about the app bringing people together, and how that’s part of the point of the app. We all have to actually go to the gyms, to the Pokéstops. We have to go outside and catch the Pokémon in the real world. And there is the allure: it’s not the first-gen kids versus the new kids anymore. This is our world all together. That’s a lot of trainers over twenty years to all be on one set of servers. (Hence my lack of surprise.)
Of course, there are the naysayers and non-trainers who sit in the background grumping about how their Facebook feed has been flooded with Pokémon stuff and they can’t wait until this “fad” dies down again. They think it’s stupid, it’s going to wear off, it can’t possibly last longer than a week or two. I disagree with them–and not because I’m a Pokémon fan. Pokémon has been around for twenty years now. Some of us have waited all twenty years to be able to walk around outside and catch Pokémon. Will it be at this level of craze forever? No, of course not. But I don’t think PokémonGO is going anywhere. If Nintendo and Niantic have the ability to keep the app as fresh as Nintendo has done for the games themselves, I don’t see any reason to step away from the game. (Particularly since I’ve heard that some Pokémon are only available in certain places…it’s going to make “catching them all” significantly harder when you may actually have to travel to get some of them!)
In the end, this is how I see it. This is an app that taps into a deep-seated vault of nostalgia for the older Pokémon generation, and a more recent love for the newer trainers. It gets people outside and moving, it helps bring people together, and it’s a much-needed ray of sunlight in what’s been a very dark and depressing week (or month, or year) of real world news. Yes, there are and will be troubles with it, particularly involving a lack of focus during activities such as driving. There are always these troubles. If there’s a deeper problem with all this, I’m not seeing it initially.
So if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to take my very tired from moving yesterday body, and try to catch the damn Eevee that’s been taunting me from outside my house.