If you frequent social media platforms, either to update your recent photos or stalk your friends, then chances are you have heard of Pokémon GO. I say so because the first time I came across Pokemon GO, I was going through my news feed on Facebook when I stumbled upon a Pokémon GO fun Video; it’s amazing how news today is received first through social media. Traditional media has become the place we go to for more detailed information about what we already know, rather than the first stop for news as it used to be the case. Anyway, I never understood what it was all about then and my efforts to try and find the game on Google Play store proved futile. Now 2 weeks later, I totally understand why.
Pokemon GO is a smartphone game that launched in the first week of July, the 6th to be precise, and has since wagged tails in every country it is now available. The game combines the real world and virtue world, engaging players to an extent that they forget their surroundings and end up on the wrong side of the law. It has caused so much trouble that during its launch in Japan on Friday last week, authorities had taken precautions and were prepared for anything. So, how is it that a smartphone game can cause so much trouble and take over social media in only a few days after its launch?
The Pokemon GO Social Media Frenzy
Created by Niantic Labs in collaboration with Japan’s Nintendo and the Pokémon Company, Pokémon GO is said to have resulted into more tweets than #Brexit did and takes users an average time of 43 minutes a day, which is more time than users take on Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat. This is according to Similar Web, an App Analytics firm that also reported Pokémon GO to attracting more daily users than Twitter does on the Android platform. The game has since become so popular that even potential users in countries where it is yet to launch are trying everything they can to have access to the app and play.
In the first week after Pokemon GO launched, Twitter recorded 15.3 million tweets on the game and online searches surpassed anything people were searching for around the world. This only proves how much the game has caused a stir globally and continues to do so, with more people coming on-board in the hope of trying to share in the excitement and experience.
What is Pokémon GO all about anyway?
The Pokemon GO smartphone game is a little different from any video game series that existed before in that it uses augmented reality (AR) to play. This to mean that instead of playing a game on your smartphone in bed, waiting room or in a matatu, you have to get outside and walk around if you are to manoeuvre through the different levels of the game. It is a real world gaming platform that incorporates actual real locations near you in your pursuit to find a pokemon, and the more you catch, the more you advance from one level to the next.
Catching a pokemon will require players to walk a certain number of kilometres and to physically move across different locations around town. In other terms, if you are looking for an easier way to lose those calories without feeling the pinch of putting in the hard work, Pokémon GO would be the ideal motivation. This combination of gaming and reality has resulted into great success for the game as most people enjoy the thrill of being physically involved when playing the game. And who wouldn’t?
When moving around during the game, your smartphone will vibrate every time there is a Pokémon near you and care is required in catching it lest it slips away. The game is also set to provide PokéStops (actual locations) where you can walk or travel to in order to pick up poke balls to help you catch a pokemon. So, in short, Pokémon GO is a game that will demand more than just your time, gaming prowess and smartphone; you will need to be physically available to move from one place to another in order to progress in the game. With augmented reality incorporated into the game to place creatures in real locations, this will have to be the best gaming invention in a long time and it is bound to engage even those who are not gaming fanatics.
Already, Pokemon GO has led to the arrest of nationals crossing borders without their knowledge, car accidents from distracted drivers, abnormal visits to homes one would otherwise not go to uninvited and armed robbery arrests. It is the one game that is making everyone go crazy and being that it is yet to launch globally, the excitement is only expected to grow for many.
Why Pokemon GO is the Most Popular Smartphone Game
According to Apple, Pokemon GO made history as the most downloaded app on App Store in the first week of its launch. Being that the game is only available in select countries, it is no doubt that Pokémon GO has raised more heads than any smartphone game ever and the reality world feature is responsible. Not only do people have to play a game on their smartphones, but they get to interact with new people, visit places they have always ignored before and have a reason to get up off their couches and walk around town with a purpose.
Think about it; most people play games for the very purpose of escaping reality – or boredom as most people would say. Pokemon GO combines this virtual reality that most people want to escape into with the reality that we currently live in, making it a more interesting world than it otherwise would be. The game provides a purpose for most people and becomes a foundation for first time conversations that would be difficult in different situations. This then becomes a reality that people want to be associated with and hence the popularity of the game.
Augmented reality (AR) technology has been in existence for a while now and while not given the credit it deserves, this incorporation in Pokemon GO may just be the shove that everyone needs to fall in love with other apps leveraging the AR tech. At a time when the market for apps is on the decline, this positive reception from the reality game may be an indication that apps featuring augmented reality technology do have a chance in the future.
As of July 19th, reports say Pokémon Go has so far been downloaded over 30 million times on both iOS and Android and is available in 30 countries. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the game to officially launch in Kenya. There is no available information on the internet that the game will be launching here, but it wouldn’t hurt to hope.