You’ve probably heard of it by now. Whether you’ve heard of the series before or only just noticed your grandkids raving about the international craze, you’ve likely noticed the immense media attention surrounding Pokemon. Twenty years ago, kids growing up in the 90s flocked to cartoons and arcades until the Pokemon phenomenon exploded onto screens in 1998. The series featured handheld video games (which reached a hefty 46 million sales) combined with a TV show, ensuring massive followings that continue to this day.
Speaking of massive followings, Pokemon Go – a new mobile game which anyone can download for free on any iPhone or Android phone – launched with enormous, immediate success, topping charts as the most downloaded app in only thirteen hours. Raking in over a million dollars a day, it’s no surprise that media attention has fixated on this peculiar cultural storm. Such phenomenal success leads many of us to ask: what is this runaway bestseller and why is it so popular? You may also wonder: is it worth your time to try?
Getting Active and Getting Exercise
Video games and outdoor activities are usually thought of as mutually exclusive. Since when have avid gamers flocked to the streets in droves and strolled through parks in the evening? With the explosive popularity of Pokemon Go, all kinds of folks are getting outside once again and spending more time in the sun. Because the game rewards players for traveling long distances on foot, many people have begun jogging and improving their physical health thanks to the game. If you’re looking for another reason to get in shape, consider Pokemon Go as a means of making your jogs a bit more interesting. Better yet, consider it an opportunity to spend some time with your kids or grandkids.
As a series, Pokemon has always focused on building friendships and camaraderie. The handheld games encourage players to meet one another to battle and trade rare Pokemon. With Go, players are out on the streets in droves and chatting about the game.
Last Thursday I visited a local park at night to catch a few Pokemon. To my surprise, hordes of players traversed the grassy hills and dirt paths, smiles on their faces and laughter in the air. I would estimate more than a hundred – perhaps even two hundred – people visited an unassuming local park on a weekday at 9:00PM! I’ve never seen a park so crowded at such an odd time. Players of all ages, from children with their parents to elderly folk walking their dogs and all sorts of people in between, gathered and discussed the game, making new friends and rivals with other players.
Unlike many online games which feature social interactions with strangers of questionable identity on the internet, Pokemon Go introduces you to neighbors, tourists, and like-minded enthusiasts of all walks of life. Just be sure that if you do go Pokemon hunting at night, you go with a friend or go to a heavily populated public area.
New Tech, New Tricks
You can call it an innovation, a gimmick, or a temporary novelty, but no matter which way you look at it, the kind of augmented reality technology used in Pokemon Go lies at the center of its success. Augmented reality works just as the name suggests – using a live, direct view of the real world, often via a cell phone camera – to augment or supplement the real world with computer-generated sounds and visual effects. What does this mean in Pokemon Go? Basically, when you encounter a Pokemon on the game’s equivalent of Google Maps, you can then use your phone’s camera to see that Pokemon in the real world, transplanted over the landscape itself.
Engineered to Engage
Pokemon Go is simple, addicting, and accessible for newcomers as well as long-time veterans of the series. With basic rules and frequent, varied reward patterns, it trains players to keep catching as many Pokemon as they can with what time they have. You can download Pokemon Go for free, but in order to make the best use of your time, you’ll have to shell out a few dollars, and that’s how Pokemon Go makes over a million dollars a day.
Will Pokemania last? Or will it pass with the ebb and flow of mass popular interest? Either way, we’ll continue to inform you on all the latest trends on our blog series, For Your Information.