Pokemon GO is either a result of the most brilliant long term advertising campaign in the history of gaming (seriously…”gotta catch em all?” That subliminal marketing is genius.) or the result of the dreams of one very clever and persistent man. The truth likely falls somewhere in the middle.
Either way, most people fall under one of three camps:
- I’m too good for this.
- GOTTA CATCH EM ALL!!&@^*$($
- Lol. Okay.
- Guess I’ll try it.
Regardless of which camp you fall under, you cannot deny the awe-inspiring impact the game has had on the world. Those born in the late 80s-early 90s are now at their prime. We have unrestricted access to mobile devices and a relatively stable life. We are old enough that our parents can’t stop us from doing what we want but still young enough to experience a shameless childish glee at the sight of a pikachu.
So far, the game has been conquering the world at a frequency that would make Napoleon envious. 39 countries have been graced with the ability to go blue, red or yellow and there will only be more regions to follow. Urban centres have become littered with virtual fluttering sakura petals that attract humans at a higher rate than actual pokemons.
Pale introverts and sun-kissed extroverts alike find themselves discovering new areas in their cities that they never knew existed. Smart business owners are including Pokemon GO in their day to day marketing and shy guys/girls have a new excuse to ask their crushes out on poke-dates but masks it as “Omg there’s a squirtle, let’s go catch it” instead.
However, let’s take a moment and step back from the chaos.
An unprecedented silent camaraderie has formed within Gen Y who has grown up watching Pokemon and has formed a love/hate relationship with Team Rocket. It is a powerful feeling to know that you are connected with the world. Why? Because having the knowledge that someone, somewhere halfway across the world is experiencing something similar brings out the innate human desire for community. Pokemon GO, for all intents and purposes, has formed a global community.
Scroll the timeline back 40 years to when our parents were our age. Their global consciousness was formed out of the collective fear of mutually assured destruction, where weekly drills on how to survive a nuclear attack was the norm. (The Cold War)
Scroll back even more to our grandparents generation and their collective consciousness was formed because of The War. No matter which side of the history they stood, everyone experienced the same thing- mind numbing horrors and a desensitization to violence.
And then there’s us with Pokemon GO, our lures, incense and MewTwo events.
While 2016 is by no means a ‘peaceful’ year and indeed, it is one of the most tragic and heart breaking one in recent memory, it is important to marvel and perhaps wonder at how and why despite all the despair, anger and intolerance in this world we can look around the world and find shared experiences.
So while we’re out hunting for pokemon there may have been times where we heard something on the news or scrolled past something on Facebook. We see the news, read the headlines and immediately form an “us” versus “them” mentality. We are angry at the ISIS terrorists who have killed/maimed/injured XYZ. We are angry that innocent people had to die.
The world is not simply black versus white. It is not merely good versus evil.
Imagine for a second, a Muslim guy walking around town trying to catch that same elusive dragonite. You both stop at the same corner of the street flicking your fingers desperately. You make eye contact and smirk to each other. Do you actually care whether he is Muslim or not? Does it even matter? Then why should it matter when you see it on the news?
Pokemon GO doesn’t define our generation, but it does remind us of our collective childhood. The days when missing an episode of the adventures of Ash, Misty and Brock felt like the end of the world. When mom and dad would pass over a juice box as we giggled again and again at the same damn lines of ‘Team Rocket is blasting off again!”
So in the spirit of those days and in the face of the challenges of the world we are inheriting; we should strive to make it so that our biggest conflict is whether our newbie friend should join Mystic, Valor or Instinct instead of simply standing by to watch the world burn.