The Pokémon Go Phenomenon
The Pokémon Go app for Apple and Android devices just launched on July 6, and social media is buzzing about this new phenomenon.
What exactly is Pokémon Go and why are so many people downloading and playing this game? According to Wikipedia,”Pokémon Go (stylized as Pokémon GO) is a free-to-play augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. It was released in beta in July 2016. The game allows players to capture, battle, train, and trade virtual Pokémon who appear throughout the real world. Although the game is free-to-play, it supports in-app purchases. An optional wearable device that works alongside the game, called the Pokémon Go Plus, will be released in the future as a separate purchase. The device uses Bluetooth connection to notify users when a Pokémon is nearby with an LED display and light vibration.”
When a player downloads the game the first thing they do is create an avatar and customize the hair, skin, eye color and outfit. After the avatar is created it will be displayed at the player’s current location with a map of the player’s surroundings. The app uses GPS to find the player’s location and the locations of what they call, Pokéstops or Pokégyms. These stops are usually at typical places where people meet up in groups such as, parks, churches, memorials and tourist attractions. Just like in the television series, when a player of Pokémon Go enters a Pokégym he or she can challenge another player as long as that player is a leader.
Pokémon Go Encourages Exercise
The coolest feature in this game is that it encourages young people to get out and exercise. In order to capture Pokémon players are required to walk around in the real world to move their avatar. The game has two different viewing modes, augmented reality, or using a pre-rendered background. The AR mode uses the camera and gyroscope on the player’s mobile device to display an image of a Pokémon as if it were in the real world. Players can also take pictures using an in-game camera of the Pokémon they encounter. If you play this with your kids you can take a photo of your child with a Pokémon.
The players have to trace their finger over the screen to throw the Pokéball in order to capture a Pokémon. After capturing the Pokémon, the player is awarded two types of in-game currencies: candies and stardust. The candies awarded by a successful catch depends on what evolutionary chain a Pokémon belongs to. A player can use stardust and candies to raise a Pokémon’s “combat power,” or CP. However, only candies are needed to evolve a Pokémon. Players can also make room for more Pokémon and earn candy by transferring Pokémon to the Pokémon Professor.
After Pokémon Go was released it topped the American App store’s top grossing and top free apps within the first 24 hours. Why are so many people downloading this game? Millennials are drawn to it because it is modeled after the popular animated series that aired on Cartoon Network when they were kids and the card game they also played as kids. Pokémon Go also gives young people something to do while out on walks and it encourages them to be more aware of their surroundings.
Pokémon Go is a genius idea and I commend the creators, Satoru Iwata of Nintendo and Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company. But, there have been safety concerns regarding the game, and the NY Post reported that playing Pokémon Go is becoming dangerous. Like all new games there are always resolvable problems that arise during the first week of its release. I’m certain that the developers will find solutions to make the game safer. Is Pokémon Go here to stay or is it just a short-lived craze? Will kids continue to hunt Pokémon in the dead of winter when temperatures are below freezing? Only time will tell.