SinceÂ the gameâ€™sÂ US launchÂ last week, I have personally seen plenty of people on the streets playing PokÃ©monÂ Go and from what Iâ€™ve heard, many can say the same. Based on some initial data, it seems that pretty muchÂ no technology comes close to the rate of adoption that this single app has seen in the past few days. Itâ€™s been a wild ride to say the least.
The app is still the top downloadÂ on both app stores,Â and there have already been dozens ofÂ articles across the webÂ telling the stories of many aspiring PokÃ©mon trainers â€” everything from robberies toÂ sore legs. PokÃ©mon Go has already become a (mostly) global phenomenon and from what weâ€™ve seen so far, itâ€™s technology atÂ its very best.
For the uninitiated, trainers in the PokÃ©mon universe â€” and, with PokÃ©mon Go, in the real universe as well â€” roam aroundÂ capturing PokÃ©mon, battling others, and visiting gyms to level up.
However, this game is a childhood dream come true for many. PokÃ©mon Go is the opportunity to actually become a â€œPokÃ©mon Masterâ€ as it is called and roam the world to capture, collect, and battle.Â Technology has long made things once deemed science fiction a reality, but, apparently, no dream of personal computers, video calls, or virtual reality, comes close to the feeling of just pure nostalgia.
Itâ€™s For Everybody
You canâ€™t help but feel wonder at how far technology has come. PokÃ©mon was created in 1995, with the first Game Boy game coming a year later and the first anime seriesÂ popping up in 1997. With globalization in fullÂ force, the Japanese invention quickly spread around the world.
With 279 million games sold as of February 2016, PokÃ©mon is the second best-selling video game franchise â€” only behind the Mario series from Nintendo proper. Itâ€™s a global franchise and itsÂ many iconic characters â€” including, perhaps most notably, Pikachu â€” have left a significant mark on pop culture.
Many growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s distinctly remember watching PokÃ©mon as part of early Saturday cartoons. Itâ€™s been almost 20 years since,Â and those early watchers are now in early adulthood, thus making the nostalgia factor super-potent for those who are now some of the most active on social media. Itâ€™s not a mystery why the game has spread like wild fire.
Over the past few days, there have been countless examples of people fromÂ all backgrounds andÂ ages coming together to play PokÃ©mon Go in the real world. From major metropolitan cities toÂ smaller towns, people on the hunt for PokÃ©mon will recognize those who are also playing the game and end up exchanging a few words. I can attest to this even in my relatively small neighborhood.
Itâ€™s remarkable really, helping people do so much as lose weight and get out of their houses â€” many are even claiming that the game is already helping their mental health.
Encouraging People to be Social
But since the PokÃ©mon universe is innately social, a number of activities can be done as a group in PokÃ©mon Go. As PokÃ©mon are not in limited supply, a bunch of people can go out together and capture the same creature from the exact same location. It limits competition in some regard, but causes the game to be much less confrontational and makes people more willing to shareÂ tips.
Half a dozen people playing at aÂ local mall and struck up a conversation. Half of themÂ were carrying battery packs to extend their game play, and one pair said they traveled quite a distance together to come to thisÂ mall as it had a number of PokÃ©Stops and gyms to claim.Â As I was riding an escalator, tapping and swiping away on PokÃ©mon Go, a stranger asked what team I was on and we ended up having a quick conversation. Being a normally shy person, I felt surprisingly comfortable to ask other people the same question when I came across them in the park.
There are just so many stories of people telling total strangers tips about where to find PokÃ©mon and striking up conversations â€” many that extend beyond the PokÃ©mon game as well. In one particularlyfunny example, aÂ player was (assuming the story is true) convinced to join a particular team for purposes of dominating the neighborhood, and a cop joined in as well.
Introducing AR to the Real World
Itâ€™s rare for an emerging technology to have an example product that can so perfectly showcase its potential to a wide swath of everyday people. The most obvious use of augmented reality in PokÃ©mon Go is the ability to capture PokÃ©mon against a live camera feed. This has resulted in both funny and rather jarring picturesÂ of PokÃ©mon ending up at the dinner table, at weddings, and even in the midst ofÂ protest.
While not as useful as a true heads-up display, this is stillÂ augmented reality â€” and itâ€™s being introduced to a world still mostly unfamiliar with the tech in the most friendly way possible. Â When a consumer, compromise-free gadget like HoloLens or the much touted Magic Leap headset is introduced, people will remember PokÃ©mon Go, andÂ games like itÂ couldÂ end up being at least oneÂ killer use case for the tech.
A Platform for Good
People work, play, and spend a majority of their time in a connected virtual realm through the use of VR headsets.Â And these virtual- to real-world connections could potentially become very real with games like PokÃ©mon Go.
In addition to in-app purchases imagine Niantic partnering with stores to show advertisements in PokÃ©mon Go. Imagine stores â€”Â such asÂ GameStop or Walmart â€” paying Niantic for a spot on the map to get players in their doors. Assuming the game doesnâ€™t go as fast as it came, there will be many opportunities for the game to evolve into more than just a game over time.
And while outright in-universe advertising might ruin the game, there are some physical real world partnerships that could be struck (again, assuming the game is even still popular once the summer is over and kids everywhere go back to school). What if Niantic partnered with parks, libraries and other safe, open spaces to establish larger gyms or PokÃ©Stops?Â Theoretically,Â PokÃ©mon Go could have dedicated physical hubs in the real world.
Approximately 20Â years after its creation,Â PokÃ©mon GoÂ gives us a peek at an augmented reality future, but itâ€™s also just a dream come true for many, many fans. Niantic Labs and The PokÃ©mon Company managed to create a smartphone game that, in true PokÃ©mon fashion,Â incorporatesÂ real-worldÂ social interaction â€” dating back to the days of connecting Game Boys together with link cables. And thatâ€™s undoubtedly one of the key reasons PokÃ©mon Go has become such a hit.
Yesterday people used to watch at their clock so that they could reach Â home and today, all they do is wander at random streets with no time-constraints. Is this game changing the human behavior? Â Is technology over-powering human behavior?
Editor’s note: Article inspiredÂ from ‘9TO5Google’
Abner Li. “Opinion: PokÃ©mon Go is technology at its absolute best”
9TO5Google. N.p., Web. 14Â July. 2016.