Check my little Pokéball render out up there! I made that this morning. Love a bit of Cinema 4D on a Sunday.
Now it’s no secret that as a mid-twenties bald guy I spent a large portion of my childhood buried in my Gameboy Colour. Pokémon yellow was my game of choice, I just couldn’t get enough of that electric guy following me round, looking for trouble, picking fights with other ‘trainers’ ( if they could even call themselves that, I was the best, after all, I did get all the badges, ) it was all pretty intense stuff. You can imagine my delight when I heard that Pokémon Go was coming out, and my following despair when I then found out that the rest of the world could get it a couple weeks before we could. But alas the day did come, and as my iPhone beckoned a little Pokéball icon away I went, to catch them all.
My initial reaction to the game was ‘bah, this all seems like quite a bit of hard work for what is essentially, an app,’ but after playing it for a few days and starting my collection of my very own little Pocket Monsters my opinion quickly shifted. You only need to take a two minute walk, look out of your window or travel to work to notice the kids ( and adults ) walking round with true excitement that they’ve found something with their friends. The stereotypical Millennial kids we all imagine hunched over a playstation controller, staring into the fluorescent blue abyss of a flat screen TV shouting obscenities at another similarly aged child half way across the world were now out and about, walking, exercising, and for the better part not even realising it. Pokémon Go to me, is what the Wii Fit never quite got right – the crossover between getting active and playing games. I remember trying out the Wii Fit on more than one occasion and the entire experience just felt sterile and obvious. It was clear why you were “ski-ing down a hill constantly in the squat position” which was only backed up by the weighing and measuring of your progress throughout, it was because of that I don’t think it really worked. The difference here is that there’s no fitness element built into the game, it just so happens that if you’d like to get involved, you physically have to get out there and play it. It’s a card in which I feel Niantic have played very, very well.
I also love the fact that a game in which I spent so long playing as a kid, can now be shared with further generations. My little brother for example, I now seem ‘cool’ to. Who knew! It’s the same nostalgic enjoyment you get out of playing with lego again, looking at Scaelextric sets and even seeing yo-yos around. There’s something comforting about seeing it all, and it’s a really nice feeling to share it with people that otherwise probably would never have had an idea about it. Sure Pokémon Go isn’t the same as Red Yellow and Blue. But reboots never are. They have to stay fresh and change somewhat so that they don’t fall by the wayside in the ever-changing world that is gaming. But basing it around physical activity for progression is a bold move that I feel could have very well crippled them. Having such an important game mechanic focussed on walking around was either going to work, or it wasn’t. I for one am glad it’s been a massive success. Kids these days do need to get out more, and even if the only way to do that is to incorporate it into a game; who really cares. It’s a good thing!
When I played as a kid the game progressed through time, new Pokémon were integrated, the maps got bigger, the consoles developed, everything got a bit more involved, and in my eyes it took a step away from what it all once was. It was at that point I stopped playing Pokémon games all together and went on to finding my next ‘big thing’ growing up. Another really important element that I feel has been a huge contributing factor in Niantic’s success, is the purposeful involvement of only the original Pokémon. By getting adults involved for the Nostalgic value alone, it’s a knock on effect that has brought the kids in. I feel that if all of the newer renditions of species had been added the game would have still been a huge success, but the likes of myself would have felt somewhat alienated. By choosing old school content in a new school playing style they’ve effectively doubled their audience. These guys certainly know what they’re doing.
Is Pokémon Go for you? Who knows. Do I love playing it? Yes, yes I do. How long will it be here for? Let’s ask Derren Brown.