There’s a new craze going around… Walking around your neighbourhood looking at your phone trying to catch Pokemon! What a time to be alive. I have been a fan of Pokémon since the original series and card game came along, so obviously I downloaded the game to see what all the fuss was about.
In a nutshell, the game uses GPS as well as Augmented Reality to transport the Pokémon experience into the real world. You get a few clues as to which Pokémon are near your physical location, as well as roughly how far away they are, and you have to move around until one appears and you are able to capture it with a Pokeball. Initially I wondered if this concept would take off… I mean, it’s a video game that requires you to leave the house and actually walk around. Would this work? The answer has definitely been a resounding yes. Another reason to get up and explore your local surroundings is Pokestops and Gyms, both interactive way-points placed throughout the real world. Once you get close enough to a Pokestop, you are able to interact with it and gain several useful in-game items. Gyms allow you to challenge other players and battle with your Pokémon. The object being to take over the gym and claim it for your team.
On my first day with the game I walked around 3 kilometers through my neighborhood, looking for a Scyther (which I did manage to catch!). This amazed me. This game with imaginary creatures and virtual way-points has actually managed to get me off the couch and walking through the streets, all in the name of capturing a Scyther! YouTube is full of videos showing crowds of players (both young and old) running and walking through parks trying to catch these mysterious creatures. I think this is really a great thing. This game has successfully got millions of people active. Parents have said that they go on walks with their kids through their neighborhoods, looking for Pokémon and exploring their world together. It’s amazing.
Another interesting observation is the extent to which this virtual Pokémon world has spilled into the real world via the Pokestops. These stops are placed at the locations of various real world landmarks. Places such as monuments, businesses, restaurants, and shopping malls all have the potential to be Pokestops. Several local bars and restaurants on the beach happen to be Pokestops, and they are definitely taking advantage, posting to social media advising customers that they should come down for a beer and to catch some Pokémon!
I think at its core Pokémon GO represents the future of how we are going to interact with the digital world and the real world. It proves that it doesn’t always have to be a case of one or the other, it definitely can be both. Sure, there have been some negative (possibly exaggerated) stories in the news, but if used with a dash of common sense Pokémon GO will open your eyes to the real life world around you as you explore, capture, and train to be the very best Pokémon Master on your block.