Top of the mornin’ Gwinnett Citizen readers! By now most of you have either heard of Pokémon Go, are playing it, or this is the first time you’re hearing about it.
Since its July 6th debut in the United States, our media has been abuzz with new stories of young people playing the game, which have landed them in funny, but serious, and sometimes dangerous predicaments. This new phenomenon is more than just a trend; it is a culture.
Most older generations are familiar with trends from their childhood or that of their own kids. Trends last a few years then fade out as people move on; much like fashion (Members Only jackets or MC Hammer pants anyone?) As a franchise, Pokémon has not only maintained popularity in the last 20 years, it has revolutionized gaming in the 21st century.
Pokémon has become a culture unto itself, a culture that has given us Millennials nostalgia to the highest degree, and has made real life Pokémon hunting a reality. The game has also bridged the generational gap as Gen-Xers and even Baby Boomers have joined Millennials in shifting from their day jobs to heading to parks to catch those adorable and loveable, virtual creatures. Currently, we are living in a world that has embraced what I call Pokéculture.
What makes Pokéculture so revolutionary is that Pokémon Go is not a game played on a standard game console; it’s played on our cell phones. Pokémon Go is an augmented virtual reality mobile application that meshes nostalgia, travel, and physical activity into our daily lives.
It has been the first video game to do away with the social disconnect that is common among gamers playing on their Xbox Live accounts, RuneScape, and arcade games. These games bring friends together and allows them to play with strangers through a virtual interface, but what these games are missing versus Pokémon Go is face to face interaction. People are building connections with passerby they meet on the sidewalks and parks while playing the game in real life.
Pokémon Go is particularly nostalgic for people in my age group because we grew up with the games, we watched the show, we traded cards and more between the late ‘90s and ‘00s. I’ll admit, I was not big into video games as a child, but I adored the show, the characters, and the hilarity of Team Rocket’s failed attempts to catch Pikachu (Team Rocket were the comical villains of the show). I remember sitting in my grandma’s living room and thinking to myself “I wish I could do that,” to now hearing my friend answer his phone and say “I’m about to go catch Pokémon” is surreal. The fact that we can live out one of our childhood past times is not only a dream come true, but it is a toast to how far technology has come since the days of the Nintendo 64 and the video game consoles of the 1980’s.
Since the game requires you to walk in order to catch ‘em all, I’ve been out more in the past three weeks because of this game. I went to Centennial Olympic Park with my family and my boyfriend, Taylor, to catch Pokémon.
At one point during our hunt, as Taylor and I traversed the park, we ran into a group of three people. We had a conversation about Pokémon and we got to know one another. We found out that one of them shared the same astrological sign as me, and he and his girlfriend, who are in our age group, are expecting a baby. We shared laughs and above all, we shared a moment that would never have happened if it wasn’t for Pokémon Go. People today seem more open to talk to whomever they meet because of this game.
I think the biggest indicator for me that Pokémon Go has taken off is when I was at Suwanee Town Center where over 50 + people were playing…and Pikachu spawned. We all started yelling “Pikachu!” Within what seemed like a millisecond, everyone ran to the same location to catch that adorable virtual mouse. We look out for each other. It’s connecting people, creating a distinct culture within a culture.
Within the Pokémon Go community, our world has turned into a friendlier place.
Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Till next time!