When I was younger than I am now, probably in fourth standard or so, I used have mathematics tutorial classes. The one hour class started at 4:30 PM and I remember vividly how restless I used to get if the class did not end on the scheduled time i.e. 5:30 PM. This restlessness was because of Pokemon. It aired at 5:30 PM on Cartoon Network. I remember how fast I used to run back home as soon as the class was dismissed. Pokémon had that effect on me. Partly because it was everywhere – you’d open a pack of your favourite snack and see Pokémon, you’d watch TV and see Pokémon, you’d go to a toy store and Pokémon were there, you’d play games on computers and consoles and they were there too – the days where you would not catch a glimpse of that red and white ball were very rare.
This effect continued for years. I played all Nintendo Pokemon games till the fifth generation of Pokemon i.e. Black 2 and White 2. I stopped after those. Maybe life got busier but the franchise always had a special place in my heart. Why won’t it? I was the kid who remembered 649 Pokemon, their types, move sets and other details but could never for the love of science memorize the Periodic Table. The situation remains the same till date. I stopped looking at Pokemon after Black and White and I never thought I would’ve ever looked back at the franchise in any way until this trailer dropped last winter and I screamed like a 5-year old kid.
Every kid from my generation wanted to be a Pokemon trainer at some point and this trailer somehow made that dream seem real and even though it was a game, somewhere, it gave all of us hope that we could at least pretend to be trainers one day. Then a few days ago, Pokemon GO actually launched and though the launch was limited, almost everyone in the world sideloaded the app and gave it a go. (pun not intended) I did the same and I would be lying if I said I’m not having fun. On the contrary, these have been the most fun 4 days of my life and I’m sure that can be said for many people I know. This game spread all over the globe like wildfire and though there are issues – servers and bugs – those will be resolved soon. At first, I thought that no one would play this game because of the sheer ridicule they might receive and though there is the ridicule, (as expected of our modern and open society) there are still so many people who are genuinely interested in the game and having fun.
I played Pokemon GO for 6 hours when I was travelling from Dehradun to Delhi and I was not bored for one second throughout the whole trip. Never have errands been so fun. Just the other day, my mother asked me to fetch some bread from the nearby store and that little task gave me a Nidoran (f) who happened to be roaming right outside the gate to my house. Yesterday, I was waiting for a friend at Connaught Place (New Delhi) and I caught myself a Magneton after chasing it for about 10 minutes near Palika Bazar. Today, a friend and I went to Hauz Khas just to play Pokemon GO near the lake because the chances of water Pokemon roaming near lakes is high and later on, we both agreed that this was one of the most fun hangouts we’ve had. After playing for four hours we headed back to have some food and then headed back home.
It is probably not surprising that an augmented reality game for Pokemon is doing so well so far. I’ve played Ingress (Niantic’s previous game) and though it was fun and engaging, it just didn’t cut it for me nor did anyone around me show any interest in it. However, everyone is familiar with Pokemon and having them suddenly pop right into our lives and in front of our eyes albeit through screens is a delight to most people around me.
Augmented Reality + Pokemon = Epic
The Augmented Reality (AR) aspect of the game is the best part about it. Though it makes playing the game a bit harder with weird movement, it is still an unexplainable feeling to see any one of the original 151 standing/floating there right before your eyes in your environment. This is mobile gaming at it’s finest. Pokemon GO is one of the best things that happened to the smart phone.
Pokemon Gyms and Rivalry
It is awesome to see these monsters like this, in the real world. Though things can be improved with how the game works, the feeling of owning (and losing) a Pokemon Gym in your own university is a feeling none of us must have even imagined of and here we are experiencing it first-hand.
There are three teams namely, Valor (Red- Moltres), Instinct (Yellow – Zapdos) and Mystic (Blue – Articuno) and as it is clear, Mystic is about to get their ass-kicked tomorrow morning. Valor Morghulis. Please do not kill me for that word play.
However, with good comes the bad. There have been reports of injuries and situational hazards caused due to the game and rightly so as it does put you out in the real world with your eyes at your screen. However, safety is necessary so be safe. If you play at night, develop a buddy system and don’t go out alone. Stay careful and aware of your surroundings (as the launch splash screen tells you to) and make sure you’re not putting anyone at risk. Don’t trespass or play while driving; in other words, the real world rules still apply. A Reddit user pointed out how lures can be used to trick or even kidnap kids and the scenario seems quite plausible.
The world has changed and it will change further. Pokemon GO is more of a movement now and less of a game. Imagine the number of people who have started walking or cycling more because of this game. Communities are coming closer and people are gaining friends as they meet each other at Pokéstops to get items. Businesses getting in on the fun and offering deals (gaining money in the process) but creating this sense of sheer joy around all of us. People are organising drives and search parties. Some people are also talking of clean-up drives. The Pokemon GO subreddit is full of these initiatives and ideas. Pokemon GO has become an international phenomenon and it has just been 4 days since it was launched.
All that said, make sure you do play and have fun and do not for the love of God let anyone ridicule you for playing this game. It is perfectly fine even if you’re an adult having a day job. This is a game that we’ve been waiting for since we read the first page of the manga or since we saw Ash catch that Caterpie or since we first chose our starter Pokemon from Professor Oak on that dimly lit black and white screen. We’ve been waiting our entire lives for this moment, we ought to catch it! (pun intended)