Pokemon Go: An Explanation

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You’re out with friends and you see groups of young people (or young at heart) diligently tuned into their iPhones or Androids. Seeing people walking around with phone in hand is a pretty normal sight, but this time it’s a little more than a really good Snapchat or text. This time people are on a quest to capture, collect, and train 150 different Pocket Monsters, or Pokemon, right from the comfort of their own smartphone.

What’s Pokemon Go anyway?

Pokemon Go is an app for Android and iPhone that was released in the US last week. This app had a diligent following of Pokemon fans long before its release, but has swept the nation with its popularity, appearing in Facebook feeds, twitter feeds, and more as a trending topic for over a week now. It’s kind of a big deal.

Pokemon Go capitalizes on a phone’s GPS to tell the game where you are. The goal is to capture 150 different ‘Pocket Monsters’ or Pokemon, which can be found throughout your area. You can get items like Pokeballs to capture Pokemon with at different ‘Pokestops’, which are found all over the place, depending on where you live. Most of the time these stops are churches, monuments, or points of interest, but they can be nearly anything. The only catch? You have to actually be there to get the items.

What’s the point?

Besides catching Pokemon, you can pick different teams and fight with your Pokemon to control gyms, which can be found at different places throughout the area. Basically this is like Geocaching with a Pokemon theme. Explore, discover, get rewarded.

Who can play?

Anyone! Maybe you weren’t a huge Pokemon fan growing up, or maybe you didn’t know what Pokemon is until now. Fortunately, none of this matters. Pokemon Go is a super rewarding way to stay active, get out of the house, and potentially bond with younger members of the family. You don’t need to know much of anything about the wildly popular series to enjoy the game. And it makes walks a lot more exciting.

Why does this matter?

Watch yourself on the road, because this app might be the next texting and driving. A guy caused an 18 car pileup when he stopped to capture an electric mouse in the middle of the highway. What?

All insanity aside, though, this app is one of the first widely accepted video games to encourage its users to get out of the house and explore the world. It’s pretty easy to meet people when you’re walking along and you run into another group doing exactly the same thing.

Pokemon Go encourages young people to interact with the outside world and make friends in a way that hasn’t been successful in the gaming world until now. It is also Nintendo’s (the company that owns Pokemon) first leap into the mobile gaming market, which could potentially change mobile gaming as we know it.

Pokemon Go is here to stay, and it’s only going to improve from here. As a kid at heart who loved Pokemon in my younger years, I can’t help but think that this was exactly the kind of thing the creator of the games envisioned back when he released the original games in 1996: a world where people would explore, discover, and ultimately connect over a common love of adventure.