Pokémon Go: Virtual Game with a Real Sense of Community
It’s no secret that the most recent revolution in app technology was sparked by the trading card-gone-virtual game, Pokémon Go. Users spent the end of the summer, putting their best foot forward with friends and family, trying to “catch them all.” Last month, we helped our clients at the Oaks Golf Course host an afternoon of Pokémon Go on their lush, green spawning grounds. Here, we quickly learned that this virtual reality is not just a game. This nostalgic app also puts the “social” in social media.
We were charmed by one player, in particular, who shared her knowledge of the game to help us understand how it’s played. Megan Reid, a local from historic Porterdale, immediately approached us and started a dialogue about the game. Her first questions to us? How long we had played, and which team we were on. Megan shared some stories with us about meeting other players and making new friends while swapping tips and boasting about their best catches. “I really have a problem,” Reid admitted. “My best friend tells me I’ve gone rogue. I downloaded the game on July 12th, and was obsessed instantly! It’s really fun.” After talking with Megan in more detail, we realized that this game not only motivates people to exercise and explore more, it also creates a strong sense of community.
While the initial boom of the Pokémon Go trend may have already peaked (the app has reportedly been decreasing in popularity), there’s no denying that it taps into our natural human desire to explore the unknown. But how could searching the globe for imaginary, fictional creatures possibly be anything more than trivial? According to Dr. Aaron Rosen, author of Art & History in the 21st Century, the answer lies within each one of us. He studied the viral game from this summer and cited that “Pokémon Go shows a desire that we as humans have to find spiritual or virtual beings, or entities out there in the world. It’s very revealing.”
If you don’t believe us, take a look at this article from VICE. Tom Currie, who worked as a barista in New Zealand, quit his job to become a full-time trainer! After downloading the game and popping his first incense (a feature of the game used to attract Pokémon to a player), Tom was instantly hooked, and began traveling the countryside to “catch them all!” He claims that the effects of playing the game have ultimately been life-changing.
“I ran out of money after about a month,” he said, “and wherever I went, I was hosted by Pokémon trainers and friends. I was fed, sheltered, taken out, and shown amazing places. I was shown the best hospitality I could possibly have asked for. I’m a much better person for it, and it made me want to become a better person, to repay all these people for their kindness.”
Currie recalled a moment when he met a woman and her son who were outside catching the characters and filling their Pokédex. She shared with Tom that her son was autistic and walked more in his first day playing than he had in an entire year!
If you’ve been cooped up in the A/C all summer to avoid the heat, grab a friend and get outside to continue the Pokémon legacy. You never know who you may meet along the way. Main Street Covington just hosted a Pokémon Go event on the Covington Square this past Saturday, so if you have any great local stories from playing the virtual game, make sure to share them with us!