This afternoon my aunt posted on Facebook with a photo from a nearby popular city park. In it were about two dozen people sitting standing with their phones out, all in the same spot. The caption read that every single person there was playing Pokemon Go, and they had all met there by chance in their hunt.
No one who has been paying even a little attention to the internet the past week will be surprised by this. Pokemon Go has been an immediate hit, and not just with kids. My 40-year-old neighbor was walking around all weekend catching as many as possible.
So, what about this game had captured people’s hearts so tightly?
The Social App
Initially, people were just drawn because, hey, it is Pokemon. Others thought it was a positive change from sedentary gaming, requiring people to get out into the world and get in some exercise. It was certainly a clever idea, and pulls people away from their computers and consoles. Even if it keeps their eyes trained on a smaller screen.
But while these are major reasons for the first downloads, it isn’t what has kept people playing so enthusiastically. It is the people they are meeting doing it.
All over Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and other social media sites, people are posting about the friends they are making.
People from all walks of life, demographics and ages have been meeting. Even cops, who have been facing some serious hostility in the US in the wake of a number of controversial and tragic shootings of civilians, are taking part. It is a transparent attempt by local PDs to engage with an increasingly distrustful population, but it works.
Ultimately, what has made people fall in love with this game is not the game itself. It is the unifying presence of the game. The way people are making friends and connections. The excitement of going out and seeing others doing the same.
I will admit I am one of the converts. I am already someone who tries to be active and get out every day to walk and run. This has made my time in the streets a hell of a lot longer. I gotta catch em all!
The success of the game is definitely a sign of things to come. Because you know other developers are going to take note and start copying Pokemon Go as soon as possible. Which can only be a good thing.