Pokemania: A 21st Century Renaissance

You can bet your sweet hard-earned cash that on July 6 when Niantic, Inc. released Pokémon Go, I was searching for it frantically in my Android Play Store. Unfortunately for me, I was one of the lucky hundred who did not have the updated Android software to support the game: so as a group of nine close friends scoured the streets of Wyalusing finding Evees, Weedles and claiming the town for Team Valor, I served as a mobile hotspot.

The wait for the game didn’t last long, for as soon as I returned home I had planned on upgrading my phone. In little of two hours, my Pokémon hunting partner Ash and I (yes, I was literally catching Pokémon with Ash, how ironic and incredibly awesome is that?!?) had me up to level five and choosing a team. I was fueled with the excitement and thrill of the interactive Pokémon world as much as the group of tanky football players behind us.

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game created by Nintendo and in partnership with Niantic, Inc., who officially released the game in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. So far, Pokémon Go has beaten several all-time high release and popularity records set by other mobile apps.

According to PC World, on July 7, Pokémon Go was on more Android phones around the United States than the number one popular dating app, Tinder. On July 8, around 5.16 percent of all Android devices were either Team Valor, Team Instinct or Team Mystic. Similarly, 60 percent of users are using it every day, matching Twitter daily users.

Pokémon Go users are spending an average of 43 minutes and 23 seconds a day on the app, almost the daily average amount of time that people spend browsing the Book of Faces. On average, Instagram users are only spending 25 minutes and 16 seconds a day on site, and two minutes less a day on Snap Chat. Send that neat little fact in a selfie.

App-tracking firm App Annie confirmed that Pokémon Go became the fastest mobile game ever to reach number one in terms of revenue on the iOS and Android system since the release of Supercell’s Clash 4bdcb842-f335-4f30-8453-f53aa8d37088Royal.

The development and amount of attention that this app has received in the past week has altered the persona of society around us. Ignorance has been pushed aside, people are realizing that there is a world beyond their own, beauty in the community around us, curiosity is encouraged, and has shed a new light to the culture of catching Pokémon, surrounding yourself with random strangers to do so. Kind of sounds like Pokémon is a new world renaissance doesn’t it?

I look around my small town of Clarion and see groups of people, literal groups of four and five people ranging in a spectrum of ages, all playing the game. Never have I seen as many people as I have in the past week roaming around Main Street at two o’clock in the morning trying to catch a Haunter. People are riding around in their cars playing the Pokémon theme song and groups of people shout Team Red or Team Blue as they surround the county park and battle a gym. Heck, I have walked around my town and discovered new places more in the past three days of playing than I have in the past three years of living here: and I am not the only one.

Honestly, if you ever wanted an app to combat the atrocities of teen/adult obesity and promote world peace I believe that this would be the app to do it. Strangers have never been as welcoming and willing to talk and interact with you, historical places and town attractions have never been visited more before, 7f8cac11-f8e5-43bc-b315-7424fde8f660and there hasn’t been such a positive and outrageous societal response such as this since Beatlemania.

In a world where staying inside to play Xbox live for hours on end and where exploring your local community and interacting with others with a common interest is unheard of, Pokémon Go has provided a catalyst in which to combat these issues. The catch ’em  all goal has created a common middle ground in which teens, adults, tweens and people of every ethnicity and race can relate and connect on. A connection such as that is not only hard to establish, but hard to maintain. This new world app has not only established such a connection locally, but globally.

With this kind of response from a childhood game, it has me thinking: how can such a simple app, from such an old video game, generate such a response and connection from generations past and present?

My belief: the world needed a distraction. The nation needed a reason, a catalyst, to push people along to work and relax in not only peace, but in unity. With the brutal ongoing elections and atrocities that have been capturing the eyes of social media, the world needed an escape from reality. Yes, the app has been getting bad rep regarding some of its server features and yes, people are abusing the meaning and purpose of the GPS feature. But with all of that aside, more people are leaving their bat caves and adventuring around their community, more people are interacting and connecting with random strangers and there is a unity within teams and within the groups of people that play.

This may not have been the goal that Nintendo and Niantic, Inc. intended for the app to reach and this is certainly not the response that they predicted they would get. Nonetheless, I think this app has stirred a revolutionary response, and in turn, a 21st century renaissance for the world of gaming. I have never in my lifetime seen a community so united and connected, and I can only imagine what other parts of the nation and world are experiencing. One thing that I do know: the creation and response to this game will go down in history, if only in gaming history. Teens and adults will be talking about and playing this game for months to come and I feel that in time, the unity within communities will grow ever stronger. And with that I must conclude….there’s a Meowth outside my apartment that I simply must catch.

(Kayla Handy is a Clarion University student contributor to VenangoExtra.com & ClarionExtra.com. Email Kayla at venangoextra@gmail.com.)