It’s become commonplace to see people in public places that are more interested in staring down at their phones than in the world around them. Before this summer, we may have assumed these people were on Google maps trying to find their destination or checking their Facebook notifications. After this summer, we can safely assume they are playing Pokémon Go.
The latest data shows that iOS users spend 34 minutes on Pokémon Go for every 22 minutes on Facebook and 15 minutes on Instagram. It took only 14 hours for Pokémon Go to hit No.1 in Apple Store. Why do we love Pokémon Go? Partly, it’s nostalgia for the childhood phenomenon that was Pokémon. Another reason may be the motivational aspect to “Go!”
Go where? Go offline!
We used to play Pokémon on our Gameboys when we were children. Many millennials were addicted to it, spending hours collecting and training their Pokémon to higher and higher levels so they could defeat more experienced trainers and collect gym badges. If Pokémon were an entirely solitary activity, it might not have become such a phenomenon. Pokémon also had a social element: you could trade or battle Pokémon with other trainers through a physical cable connecting two devices or with the card game. The game became a way for people to make friends.
The fun started with virtual engagement, and thrived in a real-world context.
Fast forward to 2016 when Pokémon Go was launched. In contrast to most mobile games which are limited to our screens and internet, Pokémon Go forces people to step outside their home to find characters. In the context that millennials are used to fast online communication, Pokémon Go retains its philosophy by bringing back real social interaction through virtual means. In addition, Pokémon Go uses local landmarks and businesses as places to find and battle in the game. As a result, people are encouraged while they are playing to check out their surroundings. It holds obvious appeal for millennials, who many times need something on their phone to encourage them to explore the offline world around them.
Your social life hasn’t changed - it still happens offline.
A smartphone or a 4G network may help us connect more easily, but not more effectively. It will never replace the part of our nature that wants to build real-world relationships. Whether you’re looking for someone to go on a Pokéwalk with or looking to grab coffee with a friend, tools as simple and frivolous as Pokémon Go can help you get out into the world.
Time to say “ohello” to the world around you!