Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is all the craze lately. People everyone are playing. People who would never have even thought to play a Pokemon game are walking the streets hunting for Pokemon. I was at work and looked out the window down to the street and sure enough this lady was catching Pokemon. How do you know if someone is playing? Just watch. They’ll act really odd, aiming their phone around, spinning in circle, then suddenly stopping for no apparent reason to interact with their phone.

I went Pokemon hunting yesterday. I was on my way to a wedding with a little time to kill so my wife and I stopped off at the mall (Irvine Spectrum for people who know the area) when suddenly a wild Zubat appeared! I chased it into a Target. Then I had to take a detour into a jewelry store to catch an Ekans. Pics or it didn’t happen? Sure.

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Throughout the mall I caught a dozen or so others. I went into a Sur la Table and found a Pidgey fluttering around some spatulas. Then wild Ratata appeared at the Starbucks, and a Crabby was just chillin on some lady’s purse. I had to stop and aim my phone at her — not awkward at all.

I saw several other people catching Pokemon around me. One guy in a Curse gaming shirt was having a grand ole time, and these two teenagers were running around clearly chasing Pokemon.

PokeStop Local Business
Brilliant marketing gimmicks.

An interesting feature are the PokeStops. Real world ‘places of interest’ are turned into PokeStops, or places that you can visit to get bonuses like PokeBalls. These have so far been everything from the water fountain at the mall to the tile art on the archway in my complex. The more populated the area, the more PokeStops — it’s like they want people to see you playing or something. ::Looks around nervously::

I’m more of a closet Poke Trainer… I get all shy and embarassed aiming my phone around. Bri gets excited and starts shouting “THERE’S ONE! CATCH IT!” and I’m like “SHHH” and I hide my phone and start examining the basting brushes like nothing is going on.

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Pokemon Go lacks the “game” element for me. It’s a neat gimmick to use your phone camera to see pokemon in the world, but just flicking pokeballs and having it be nothing more than ‘collect’em all’ gets old. I want to battle them. I want to level them up. I want to do more of the actual Pokemon game. I get it — that’s not what Pokemon Go is about. Pokemon go is about getting random people out catching Pokemon

By the end of the afternoon I had walked just over three miles finding Pokemon. I’m already a bit bored with the whole experience. Come to think of it, that’s what Pokemon Go is all about. It’s not a game. It’s an experience. It’s a fun social experiment to see how new ways of engaging people beyond the usual gamer can catch on. Give it a shot — it’s free. Just don’t let your kids walk into the middle of the street chasing after a Pikachu.

  • Half my Feedly is playing this. Interestingly, your “Tricking me into exercising isn’t cool” seems to be the main PRO for quite a few of them.

    Since I don’t even own a mobile (cell) phone it’s not an option for me but the lack of a “game” wouldn’t put me off if I did. I think you’re defining “game” very specifically from the point of view of a “gamer”. I’m certain that most non-gamers would see “catching and collecting” as an entire game in itself without need for anything more. Equally i would expect most of them to tire of it pretty quickly. We’ll see how many people are still pointing their phones in a couple of months time.

    And if you want more of a game you presumably would prefer Ingress, on which Pokemon Go is based. Tried that yet?

  • Slightly confused because at level 5, you CAN battle them for possession of gyms. You pick one of three teams, and then you can do so. 🙂 And you can level them up with the candies that you get. Just transfer all but the highest cp pokemon of one type and then use the candies to evolve them. 🙂

  • @keen I think you are mistaken. You can battle the Pokemon.. There are Gyms in the real world and if you go to a gym you can battle and try and get the gym badge.

  • Guys, are you seriously trying to say that the nearly-automated gym “battles” are legit battles? Come on… the thing nearly plays itself out. You show up, swipe to dodge and tap to attack. Youtube it. Let’s not pretend that’s a Pokemon battle.

    @Bhagpuss: My dig at the exercise thing is tongue-in-cheek.

  • I never watched Pokemon so I have no interest in this game but I do think it is interesting it has taken this long for a AAA augmented reality game to hit like this. I dabbled with Ingress and thought it was interesting and paired it up for a while with my hiking and geocaching hobby but Ingress never really caught on. This thing is just insane with how popular it has become. The question is will it have lasting appeal for people. Also, hopefully this leads to some new AR style games.

  • The answer to your lasting appeal question is, sadly, no. There’s just not enough to do. The part that keeps people playing — the RPG + the progression — really isn’t there. It’s an ‘experience’ and will be fleeting like one. It’s been incredibly successful as an experience, though. The reaction from local businesses is tremendous.

    This morning on the radio I heard that armed robbers were using Pokemon lures to bring in unsuspecting trainers. While that’s horrible, it’s also astonishing that the game has even that much reach.

    AR will be interesting, but so far it’s still too gimmicky to stick.

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