It’s a strong possibility that you might be tired of hearing about Pokémon GO. It’s pretty much everywhere. You go to the store, and you’ll see people playing outside in the parking lot. Walk down the street, and notice clusters of players at PokéStops.
It makes you wonder why it’s blowing up as big as it has, doesn’t it? Why is something so simple causing a stir? People have gotten into car accidents because of this game and even called 911 to try and catch Pokémon in fire stations.
What could possibly be the reasoning behind all this?
The Element of Nostalgia
If you’re in your mid 20s to mid 30s, chances are you collected Pokémon cards when you were a kid. Perhaps ran around with a GameBoy and a Pokémon binder, filled with rare and tradable cards. It seemed everyone had a stuffed Pikachu toy. Yes, it was a right of passage, of sorts, to be heavily into Pokémon.
By bringing it back, Pokémon GO has tapped into that element of nostalgia. All of a sudden it’s acceptable to be heavily into Pokémon again, regardless of your age. Pokémon shirts are flying off shelves. Ash’s hat is being worn by millions of suburban kids everywhere… And it’s smile inducing again.
Interactive In More Ways Than Most
Consider how interactive most games are: the player mashes buttons, moves analog sticks, maybe clicks a mouse button, and taps on a keypad or keyboard. With VR all they do is move around the same spot – players don’t even have to leave the room.
Now consider how interactive Pokémon GO is: players have to actively drive, or walk around, to reach PokéStops in their local neighborhood, and participate in Gyms to collect valuable items. It’s a game that cannot be played in one room, apartment, or house. Players have to interact with other players, and actually move around to get ahead.
For this reason, there are several articles on the positive effects that Pokémon GO can have on our general population. People are exercising, meeting potential partners, making new friends, battling depression and anxiety, getting out more, etc. No other game compares when you consider the interactive level that it demands. More than a game, it’s a social experience.
Adventure & Collecting
Pokémon GO provides a sense of adventure through exploration. Chances are people don’t know every nook and cranny of their neighborhood. Pick up Pokémon GO and that’ll change. The game encourages players to search for PokéStops, frequent places like parks, local fountains and statues. Historic places and churches are even considered PokéStops.
The best part is while you’re walking or driving around trying to find PokéStops, you can collect Pokémon. They will randomly spawn on your journey, so you can collect, power up, evolve, and transfer them.
However, Pokémon GO isn’t supposed to be a solitary experience. The objective of the game is to encourage social and physical activity. Sure, people can meet up with other players and go exploring, collecting Pokémon together, but the primary social activity is battling.
When a player finds a gym, he/she can challenge another player. Automatically, the highest-leveled Pokémon are used. Several consecutive wins and a player can take over a gym, becoming the primary opponent (Gym Leader). The objective here is to hold the gym for as long as possible, because in being there, your Pokémon can collect several essential items that you can go back for.
Challenging (Playing Without Spending Money)
Technically, Pokémon GO is free to play,but they have a marketplace where players can purchase items. Poké Balls, incense that draws Pokémon to the player, and Lucky Eggs are just a few of the items available. Each player gets a total of 50 Poké Balls to start, and once they run out, players have to actively purchase, or collect them through PokéStops.
This means that if you want to get ahead, you have to play rather religiously. Spending money is easy, earning it is difficult. You could easily spend a few hundred dollars just making the games easy for yourself, but Pokémon GO isn’t about making things easy for the player. It’s about encouraging physical activity. Essential items are placed all throughout cities in the hopes that players will go out exploring, get exercise, and collect the items for free.
For players who love a challenge, this is an addicting game. Staying ahead of the competition, ensuring that they have all the items they need, means having to put in the effort and physical activity needed.
Pokémon GO is more than a game, it’s a social experience. By using Pokémon as a reward system, the developers have encouraged players to get out more, interact with others, and get exercise. They established an emotional connection by using the element of nostalgia, and then they built on it by making it interactive. It is far more hands-on than your typical controller-oriented game. It is far more physically interactive than VR.
Now all that’s left to see is how long it lasts. Is this a mere trend, or a social phenomenon? Leave a comment below!