Like it or not, Pokemon Go is here to stay. Young people everywhere will have their faces glued to a phone while on walks, bike rides, or meals out. Regardless of how you feel about it, Pokemon Go has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon. Even if you don’t plan on playing it or allowing your kids to play it (although what’s so bad about letting your kids go on adventures?), Pokemon Go is something you’re going to hear a lot about. So, for the newly initiated, the parent of a Pokemon-obsessed kid, or just the average person hoping to seem a little less clueless about the game, here are a few things you should probably know.
1. What’s a Pokemon?
For the record, the plural of Pokemon isn’t ‘Pokemans’, ‘Pokemons’, or ‘Pokemen’ unless you’re someone’s out of touch aunt. It’s just Pokemon. Pokemon is short for ‘Pocket Monsters’ which is a callback to the original games that were a huge sensation in both Japan and America in the mid ’90s. Pokemon are little imaginary monsters of varying types, sizes, and shapes, that players can collect, train, and use to battle one another. It works pretty much the same way in Pokemon Go, although some of those features haven’t been implemented yet.
2. Are they real?
It might seem pretty convincing as kids flit across your lawn, trying to catch a creature that they can see but you can’t. After all, people wouldn’t risk life and limb to catch an imaginary creature, would they? Actually…yes. The Pokemon people are chasing are just superimposed over your camera image, meaning that there’s not a turtle on your kitchen sink. Not physically, anyway.
3. Is Pokemon Go dangerous?
Like texting, Pokemon Go is a pretty engrossing form of interacting with the world through your phone– meaning that it can potentially cause accidents. There are a few reports of people up to no good using the app to take advantage of people, but this is mostly harmless fun, as long as you’re using a bit of common sense. Don’t go wandering around with your nose in the phone alone at 3AM, and definitely don’t do it while driving.
4. Am I the only person not playing?
Definitely not. Pokemon Go is incredibly popular, to the point where it can seem like almost everyone is playing it, but that’s not the case. Pokemon Go has an estimated 7.5 million downloads, which is a huge number, but still a pretty small percentage of the population.
What makes it seem bigger than it is is that the vast majority of people in their mid twenties to mid thirties are tuned into the game. The Millenials were at the perfect age when Pokemon was first released, meaning that they’re probably the most hype about Pokemon Go. So, if you’re around that age group, it probably does seem like nearly everyone is playing. Combine that with young people’s prolific use of the internet, and you have some of its popularity explained.
5. Why are there so many people at church?
Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly a revival. In Pokemon Go, players can fight each other for control over gyms, which can be located in real world locations. Pokemon Go is based off of another augmented reality game which is the source for a lot of the locations Pokemon Go says are important.
Basically, whoever played the last game went through a marked buildings, monuments, and other places they thought were worthy of taking note of. For a lot of towns, this means the church was marked. So unfortunately, the kids standing outside of your church aren’t looking to join youth group, but simply fight each other for control over the gym.
6. How is this good for young people?
If you’re not into the whole cell phone craze, it can be pretty easy to quickly write off Pokemon Go as yet another thing that takes young people out of the real world and into a virtual world of their choosing. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Pokemon Go breaks gaming boundaries in a completely new way, encouraging players to see the world, meet new people, and ultimately, explore.
For young people experiencing isolation, anxiety, and depression in higher numbers than ever before, Pokemon Go can be a savior. This isn’t a game that isolates people; it’s a game that brings them together in a way that hasn’t been done before. And that alone makes the game worth its weight in gold.