Pokemon Go turns five and the wholesome memories have flooded back to us. The global sensation was developed by Niantic and The Pokemon Company.
It uses Augmented Reality (using real-world locations as the game’s backdrop) to allow players the chance to catch their own digital Pokemon and compete in Pokemon battles. According to activeplayer.io, over 71 million people currently play, with the average player base being around 64 million people in 2020. If the app has shown us anything, it’s that the love for Pokemon is still strong, but it also shows that gaming and outdoor exercise can co-exist together. This is because the app works best when travelling around, in order to encounter different Pokemon and visit Pokestops, where items can be gained. It was, overall, a unique technological experience that even inspired a few more AR games.
“It brought people together.”
The game came around at a time where I was busy with university work. I was about to go into my final year and so had to start preparing for my Final Major Project. And, while I wasn’t going outside much, the release of the app encouraged me to spend more time outdoors, whether that was for breaks or to do work outside. It also encouraged me to explore more areas in my hometown that I may have previously missed, because I was looking out for the Pokemon that would be in those locations. I am someone who likes familiarity and is more comfortable being in a place that I’ve frequently visited but, with the reward of catching a certain Pokemon being introduced, this gave me more confidence to explore more areas that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Pokemon Go also brought about a sense of community and encouraged people to interact with each other. I live in a fairly small city by the sea, where people tend to keep to themselves. However, I found that people were coming up to me and talking to me, or I would be encouraged to talk to other people to ask about the whereabouts of a certain Pokemon. Whether or not you play Pokemon Go now, it can’t be denied that it did bring about a sense of community.
Pokemon Go was not only a technological achievement, but it had an unexpected effect: it brought people together. The idea that games and exercise can’t exist is an outdated idea, especially with the release of the Wii Fit in 2007 and the more recent Nintendo Switch Ring Fit Adventure from 2019. But outdoor exercise and games can also work together too, in the form of AR games. Not only has this game been a joyous experience on its own, but it’s also encouraged me to be more confident in talking to people and exploring areas that I usually wouldn’t have.
And, yes, I still play Pokemon Go and love the game. As a huge Pokemon fan, it’s extremely nostalgic, plus…I still need to catch ‘em all! Please also note that the images featured in this article are from my first years’ experience playing the game!
Happy 5th Birthday Pokemon Go!