The Pokémon Go phenomenon is kind of unnerving

pokemonI can’t remember the last time that I saw a video game become an overnight global phenomenon like Pokémon Go. I mean, Pokémon releases are usually popular but they don’t really cross over into my space — the franchise came out after I left college and I never understood the appeal of it. All I’d ever see are kids with DSes playing them, and that was that.

But this? This is something wholly different. It’s like Pokémon had been planting seeds for decades now that were waiting to bloom when Go came out. It’s not just popular, it’s absolutely pervasive. Overnight omnipresent. Everyone seems to be playing it — adults, kids, cops, robbers, you name the demographic. And because it’s a game that interfaces with the real world, the phenomenon is much more noticeable, with people driving and walking all about to “catch ’em all.”

I guess a lot of public spaces are being utilized for the game, because our church is a training gym, which means that people keep driving into the parking lot at all hours. When I took a bunch of teens out to lunch on Sunday, they were all hunched over their phones, catching Pokémon in the restaurant. My wife said that half of her work was trying to sneak off to play this during the day.

I’ve kind of joked how this is the beginning of a very strange apocalypse, and I guess that’s just me, an outsider, feeling a little unnerved by how fast and huge this got. How it’s changed the habits and behavior of people.

I’ll freely admit that it’s not bad. I love games, and I think that the structure of this is kind of genius. Gets people out of the house, being more social, exploring more places, etc. Reminds me a lot of exploring during geocaching. But you know how it is, when you’re not particularly into someone that is popular, and it makes you feel a little weird. Nobody’s excluding you but you are excluded from this “club” based on your own interest.

It might be something fun to do with my kids, although I’m just now trying to work them through Super Mario Bros. and don’t want to stack on more Nintendo franchises. It will certainly be interesting to see if this game keeps growing and develops legs, or if this is some sort of flash-in-the-pan hit that will simmer down a month or so from now.

4 thoughts on “The Pokémon Go phenomenon is kind of unnerving

  1. bhagpuss July 12, 2016 / 10:22 am

    It’s either a cultural shift on the scale of Facebook and Twitter or it’s the hula hoop all over again. Only time will tell.

  2. baldwinp July 13, 2016 / 8:21 am

    Because you have to actually move around to seek them out, my guess is that this will simmer down once everyone gets tired of walking around their block every night to catch the same pokemon as the previous night. Adding more creatures to catch and more ways to do battles with others might keep it going longer, but I think people will tend to get worn out on it, leaving only the more dedicated gaming types. By mid-autumn, most people will probably have uninstalled the app.

    But hey, for now it is getting people outside, giving families a new activity to do together, and leading to some humorous pics. So, that’s a win in my book.

  3. Pasduil July 13, 2016 / 11:34 am

    I rather like the idea of a Pokelypse. Someone should write a story.

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