I found out about Pokémon Go when I was visiting some friends in Bristol last week. I was sat in the living room and my friend Chris turned to another friend and said “Tom, just put your hand a bit lower, and put it into a kind claw like grip”. And so it continued until the shot was ready and taken. I had no idea what was going on, and then Chris confessed that they’d all recently got into Pokémon Go.
It will have been hard to miss the release of Pokémon Go by Nintendo last week; there have been so many stories in the news surrounding the new game. One man, New Zealander Tom Currie, has even quit his job to become a full time Pokémon hunter, which is drastic enthusiasm if there is such a thing; since he announced his new career his story has gone global. In Muncie, Indiana, you’ll find an animal shelter in need of dog walkers is trying to enlist Pokémon Go players to volunteer to take their dogs out on their wanderings with them. Vine star Logan Paul took it one step further, winding up as many players as he could in Central Park.
LOLOLOL POKÉMON GO IS INSANE! pic.twitter.com/dDOkCUXzuE
— Logan Paul (@LoganPaul) July 20, 2016
Not all are good though, with Bosnian charity Posavina bez mina issuing a warning to after hearing reports of users venturing into risky areas still filled with landmines, looking for rare Pokémon. In Florida, two teenager’s driving around playing the game and were shot at; the homeowner thought they planning to burgle his house.
Its economic impact in the last week can’t be ignored either, with Nintendo firmly asserting themselves back as a gaming powerhouse, their share price even usurped tech giant Sony at one point, though their most recent announcement brought a sharp fall — but don’t worry, they’re shares are still up 60% since July 6th. Even Apple stand to make huge sums of money in the next few years, with analysts claiming they could make upwards of $3 billion, just hosting the app in its store. And of course a story like this wouldn’t be finished if the ‘brands’ didn’t join in; McDonald’s became a launch sponsor for the Japanese release. I wonder how much they may have paid for that.
It may seem like Pokémon has been an overnight success, let’s face it, no-one was really talking about it that much anymore; even though many played it in their youth. Firstly released in 1996 with the Game Boy game in Japan, it didn’t take long for it to be released in Europe and by that point there were comics, cartoons and the very successful trading cards to play. It’s success carried it well into the noughties, Pokémon is and was still being sold and is one of Nintendo’s most successful games.
But it hasn’t died out, never had, and it is almost as if Nintendo were waiting for the appropriate technology to be developed before they could make the next step. The similarities to the original game are there, you have wander around catching Pokémon, this time in the real world not a virtual one. Social media also has a huge influence — being able to instantly take photos of your favourite creatures and your friends and post them somewhere on line has been key to its impressive global impact.
It’s not always the new that can catch you out, sometimes it can be a reinvention of the old. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do to shake things up in a world where there is so much media trying to steal your attention.