Here in Seattle, you don’t have to walk far to find the nearest PokéStop. Which means, you don’t have to walk far to find someone with their face buried in their phone, playing Pokémon Go. The game is immersive, interactive, and addictive. And at this point, if you haven’t heard of it, you’re probably living under a rock.
No one, not even the game's creators (Niantic), could have predicted the scope of the game’s popularity. Upon release, the game soared to the top of the charts, making it the most downloaded app on any Apple device in less than five hours. Acquiring more active users than Tinder, and as many as Twitter in the first day alone. The markets reaction was swift, and strong – raising Nintendo’s stock price by 25%.
New Lyft riders can get a free ride credit with code: POKESTOPS.
Many believed the game would be a fad. That it would only last days to weeks at most. But nearly a month later, the game continues to dominate the charts, and is now the biggest mobile game in history – with more daily active users than Candy Crush.
No game in history, has ever sparked social change so quickly. The reality that this game has changed the way so many people go about their daily lives is truly remarkable. Masses of people now gather regularly in parks to catch “rare Pokémon,” strangers organize meet-ups to capture local gyms, and a new community of Pokémon players has created a new gaming culture.
Governments and Police Departments around the world have taken action against the game. Urging citizens to take caution not to “catch and drive,” and some countries going as far as banning the game altogether. In New York, the state government has barred all registered sex offenders from downloading the game, and is working with Niantic (the game's developers) to ensure that no PokéStops come too close to the home of a registered sex offender.
While state officials struggle to keep up with the social ramifications of the game, businesses have embraced it. Pokémon Go has driven the reclusive out of their homes and onto the streets in a way that Michelle Obama could only have dreamed. Many businesses have capitalized on the increased foot traffic by purchasing lures (modules in the game that attract Pokémon) and continually supplying them to generate a larger crowd by their restaurant or shop. Drawings of various Pokémon cover storefronts with signs that read: “Our Pokémon are for paying customers only.” As players walk thousands of steps in search for Pikachu, they inevitably work up an appetite, and local establishments are happy to feed them.
Some Pokémon Go players have forgotten that the game itself lies in the context of the real world. One would have hoped that places like Arlington National Cemetery and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, would be “hallowed ground.” That it would seem inherently inappropriate for people to play the game at these sites. But unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Both institutions are hoping to have themselves removed from the game, and they are not alone. Certainly, while it’s up to individuals to use common sense while playing the game, both to be aware of their surroundings and respectful of them, the game’s developers bear the burden of responsibility not to encourage gameplay at sites like these.
Like it or not, it appears as though Pokémon Go is here to stay and we will continue to see it’s presence as a part of our daily lives. It has inspired a new generation of Pokémon fanatics. It has entranced nostalgia-struck fans of the past. The game has forever changed smart phone gaming, and gaming culture in general. The game is still new, and relatively bare-bones in comparison to the original games, considering there are over 700 Pokémon ever created and only the first-gen 151 are included in Pokémon Go. This leaves a lot of room for the game's developers to improve gameplay in the updates and keep people interested. If they can do that, Pokémon Go will be around for quite some time.