2016 really is turning into a repeat of the golden years of the 1990s. Retro music, fashion, and gaming are all back in style. The latest example of the past coming in full force is the release of the game Pokemon Go.
Available for both Android and iOS systems, Pokemon Go has swiftly topped the charts and become a full on cultural phenomenon. The game gives children of the 90s and fans of Pokemon around the world the ability to live out their childhood fantasies and become a trainer of the imaginary creatures known as Pokemon.
The premise of the game is simple: a user creates their avatar and goathers materials to catch and train Pokemon.. Materials are gathered from Pokestops located in landmarks around the world. Pokemon appear in location that correspond to their type; water Pokemon are more likely to pop up around the ocean, whereas ghost Pokemon are more often seen at night.
When a trainer reaches level 5, they have the chance to join a team. The three teams are Valor, Mystic, and Instinct, and each has a different philosophy on how Pokemon are trained. Once a trainer joins a team, they may battle other Pokemon and claim rewards for controlling a gym.
Though the game is wildly popular, it is still only in its early stages. The parent company, Niantic, has many more elements it wishes to roll out to make the game more interactive and dynamic. For example, they hope to soon introduce the ability to trade Pokemon between trainers, and engage in battles outside of gyms. They are adding new graphics and tweaking systems that allow users to track Pokemon in their area.
The game has had many benefits, intentional or not. Because Pokemon exist in specific geographic locations, users are required to walk around in order to find them. This has lead to an increase in exercise and overall health. Additionally, users who suffer social anxiety have become more engaged in their community, met knew friends, and in general come out of their shell.
However, there are some risks associated with the game. There is an object called a “lure” that attracts Pokemon to a specified location for 30 minutes. While most of the time trainers gather for friendly Pokemon hunting at these spots, some criminals have been using them to attract potential victims. A few unlucky trainers have indeed been robbed using this tactic. People wish to steal Pokemon Go accounts that are at a high level or have a large number of Pokemon in order to resell them at a high price.
On a larger scale, the hunt for particularly rare Pokemon has even caused riots and stampedes in certain locations. There are also Pokemon that appear at war memorials or in insensitive locations, and law enforcement have attempted to stop players from intruding in their quest to collect all the creatures. But it doesn’t seem to be working, and statues of Pokemon have been popping up around the globe.
It is clear Pokemon Go is more than just a fad. It is a sensation spreading joy and nostalgia around the world, and despite the risks, has been a positive influence on society.