Nintendo’s behemothic series has finally made the switch to mobile to a level of popularity no one could have predicted. As one of the first mainstream augmented reality games to take the market by storm (no offence Ingress) it’s changing the way people game, becoming almost a social movement.
I, personally, haven’t witnessed a craze in gaming quite like this, where you can walk down the street seeing Pokemon hunter after Pokemon hunter catching prey, battling for other worldly gyms and comparing Dex. You catch glances of people playing on their phones and hear whispers of what their prize catches are all over the place, with the big surprise being how it’s people of all ages (with more adults in my experience) playing.
The sofa has seemingly been Nintendo’s enemy for a while now. They have always been a very forward looking company for active options, being the first to release a console with motion controls as well as their long line of mighty Game Boys offering portable gaming options. However by now gamerfying activity and movement the couch is well out of the picture; your new gaming sanctuary is the outdoors and your raiding clans are the people around you. Plus, by turning to the mobile phone as a device (which are now available to the vast majority) they’ve given a huge number of people the opportunity to turn their phone into a window into the Pokemon Universe.
From a social point of view people had been organising themselves through Facebook groups since before the app was officially released, providing spaces where prospective Pokemon Masters could engage with each other about their new hobby, as well as compare catches, offer up tips (especially during the app’s buggy early days) and organise raids on gyms. It’s not just the users that are getting something out of the experience, the app has opened many other social and business opportunities.
Pokestop locations are being utilised by local business to organise social events, offering non-stop lures so customers can catch away to their heart’s content while socialising and enjoying their host’s services. Anything that can bring people of all walks of life together in such a positive way can only be a good thing in my books. Even if that means bumping into one or two people on the pavement who have stopped dead in their tracks to catch their 50th Pidgy of the day.