Everyone is suddenly catching Pokémon fever again. Here’s what’s going on.
You may have heard stories of people hunting down Pokémon on their office desks, in hospital rooms, and even in bathrooms.
What the hell is going on? What is Pokémon Go?
[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]W[/su_dropcap]ell, after a few years lying relatively low, the Nintendo-owned Pokémon, which exploded in popularity in the late 1990s, is again taking the world by storm. This time, through Pokémon Go: the series’s biggest entry into the mobile space, now available for a free download on Android and iOS. It’s so popular that it’s now competing with Twitter in terms of daily active users on Android.
In simple terms;
Pokémon Go is a game that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon “appear” around you (on your phone screen) so you can go and catch them.
As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is. The idea is to encourage you to travel around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game. (This mix of a game and the real world interacting is known as “augmented reality.” )
So why are people seeking out virtual creatures while at work and as they go to the bathroom? Part of the reason Pokémon Go is popular is that it’s free, so it’s easy to download and play. But more importantly, Pokémon Go fulfills a fantasy Pokémon fans have had since the games first came out: What if Pokémon were real and inhabited our world? But to understand why people are so enthusiastic about the idea, we first need to go back to the late 1990s — to the original Pokémon games.
What is Pokémon Go? It’s an attempt at realizing what fans always wanted from Pokémon.
The Pokémon games take place in a world populated by exotic, powerful monsters — they can look like rats, snakes, dragons, dinosaurs, birds, eggs, trees, and even swords. In this world, people called “trainers” travel around the globe to tame these creatures and, in an ethically questionable manner, use them to fight against each other.
Based on the premise of bug catching — a popular hobby in Japan, where the games originated — the big goal in the Pokémon games, from the original Pokémon Red and Blueto the upcoming Pokémon Sun and Moon, is to collect all of these virtual creatures.
The games took the world by storm in the late 1990s — a big fad widely known as“Pokémania.” The original handheld games, Pokémon Red and Blue, came out in 1998 in America, followed by Yellow in 1999 and Gold and Silver in 2000. With the games came spinoffs like Pokémon Snap and Pokémon Pinball in 1999, a popular TV show, movies,trading cards, and a lot of other merchandise. For a few years, Pokémon was on top of the world. (The franchise is still fairly big; it’s just not the cultural phenomenon that it once was.)
But since the games came out for Nintendo’s handheld consoles, fans all around the world have shared a dream: What if Pokémon weren’t limited to the games’ world? What if they were real and inhabited our world? What if we could all be Ash Ketchum, the TV show’s star trainer, who wanders the world in his quest to catch them all and earn his honors by defeating all the gym leaders? I want a Pikachu in real life, dammit!
Unfortunately, Pokémon aren’t real — at least not yet. But technology has evolved to be able to simulate a world in which Pokémon are real. That’s essentially what Pokémon Go attempts to do: By using your phone’s ability to track the time and your location, the game imitates what it would be like if Pokémon really were roaming around you at all times, ready to be caught and collected. And given that many original Pokémon fans are now adults, this idea has the extra benefit of hitting a sweet spot of nostalgia, helping boost its popularity.
The game makes some big changes. For one, the way you navigate the world is obviously different. In the handheld games, you simply use a controller to move around the in-game world the developers have made. In Pokémon Go, you have to travel around the real word, and the game uses your GPS and clock to detect your location on the in-game map and decide which Pokémon appear around you.
What’s more, the game does a lot to make you explore your real-world environment at different times. For example, if you go out to a park, you’ll probably see more grass- or bug-type Pokémon. If you go near a lake or ocean, you’ll be able to pick up more water types. And if you go out at night, you’ll see more nocturnal fairy and ghost types.
This is further enhanced by PokéStops, which are essentially notable locations in the real world marked on your in-game map. You can go to these to nab items, including Poké Balls and eggs that can hatch into full Pokémon. It’s also possible to install special items at PokéStops that lure extra Pokémon, which also make the stops glow pink on the map so players know that hanging around will attract extra Pokémon.
This need to travel is the game’s depth, essentially: To catch them all (and earn the medals attached to catching Pokémon), you’re going to have to explore far and wide, during the day and night — like Ash Ketchum does in the TV show. It’s the only way to become the very best, like no one ever was.
The game monetizes on this, too: You can buy items in the store with real money that help you lure Pokémon. Since Pokémon Go is free to download and play, this is how the developers are making money off the game. (They’ll also probably make money off all the data they’re collecting.)
Another huge change is the combat. When catching Pokémon, you don’t fight them with your own team of Pokémon. Instead, the battle is between you and the creature directly: You swipe to throw a Poké Ball — the device used to capture Pokémon — in their direction, which then catches them.
Pokemon Go is the fever that has everyone sneezing direclty form their phones, and with the utility of augmented reality with it, life has again become so much fun for everyone. Why don’t you go on and download this amazing game, turn up the heat y’all!