The Pokémon Go Effect
Since its launch on July 6, 2016, Pokémon Go has been a huge sensation in our society. Everywhere you look, you see a band of people walking around glued to their phone screens seeking the nearest Pokémon. You also see articles about the affects the game has on a person, tips and tricks, or even how it’s causing violence. We see games and applications come and go, but how has Pokémon Go managed to be an overnight sensation capturing even more active users in one week than Twitter managed to gain in 10 years? What’s crazy is that Pokémon Go has over 9.5 million people playing daily.
It creates connections; personal, social and emotional. Pokémon Go creates an emotional connection with its participants. Some of you may not realize this, but Pokémon Go is not the original. When the original Pokémon game debuted twenty years ago, it was a hit similar to the current version. The game was played for years before sizzling out. I remember getting off the bus as a child and my brother would break out his Gameboy to play for hours. Whether you played the game as a child or know someone who did, you have a personal connection to that memory. When the new game debuted this summer, it brought people back to their childhood, but added real life, present surroundings. Working with Google Maps allows the game to see your geographic location and puts the beloved Pokémon in your everyday surroundings.
Additionally, the game creates giant social networks. Even if you’re avoiding the game, you undoubtedly notice that it brings people together. Let’s face it, I bet you can’t go one day without overhearing a conversation about Pokémon Go or seeing groups of people play the game. For instance, my roommates decided to drive around one Wednesday night to try to catch a Pikachu (which we found at University of Dubuque), and let me tell you, we weren’t the only ones. It was amazing how many people were
inhibiting the Dubuque Riverwalk at a time when it’s usually quiet. There had to have been at least 100 hundred people walking around, flocking to the Pokestops. You could even hear a few shrieks when someone would catch a rare Pokémon. In addition to Pokémon Go’s social implications, it’s creating a common interest among strangers. As groups would pass one another on the Riverwalk, they would share tips of what’s ahead in the advanced levels. There are similar occurrences happening all over the United States, including recently at Millennium Park in Chicago. Thousands of people gathered around The Bean to catch Pokémon and collaborate with other gamers.
Lastly, it creates an emotional connection because it’s addicting; it keeps you coming back to play. You never know where you’ll be when a Pokémon pops up. Better yet, where is Pikachu going to be? The game gives you hints on the bottom right corner as to where a nearby Pokémon may be. “Three more steps”, so you think to yourself, “Three steps straight or is that three steps down the hill?” You’re constantly on the look-out to catch new ones.
Coming from a person who did not play the original Pokémon game as a child and finally gave into this new game, I can see why millions are downloading Pokémon Go. It’s creating connections like most applications and games can’t. Will the Pokémon Go craze stick around or phase out sooner than we think?
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– Rachel Moser │ Public Relations and Event Intern
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