What is Pokémon Go and why should I care?

July 17, 2016

Pokémon Go is a rising phenomenon of nostalgic popularity, but for many people, it’s just unclear why anyone should care. There’s several categories of people who should at least be interested in Pokémon Go and, based on the fact that you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you fall into one of them.

You probably remember the Pokémon franchise from the 90s, or its dwindling popularity thereafter. Nintendo has breathed new life into their cute, battling critters with Pokémon Go. Now multiple generations of Pokémon trainers are running outside to “catch ‘em all”. What does any of this mean, and why should you care?

What is Pokémon Go?

Nintendo introduced Pokémon as a video game series for the Game Boy handheld console. Now, for the first time, a new Pokémon game is available exclusively on mobile devices in the form of Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go is very different from previous Pokémon games. Not only is it a mobile game, but it’s free to download and play. Though the basic premise of “gotta catch ‘em all” is the same, Pokémon Go’s gameplay is completely different.

The basic gameplay goes like this: You walk around looking at a map on your device until you find a Pokémon, you spot the Pokémon through your device’s screen, and you flick a Pokéball at it to catch it. To make the game feel more realistic, Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to decide which Pokémon should appear. So, if you’re at the beach, you’ll see water Pokémon. If strolling through the park at night, you’re more likely to see bug and ghost Pokémon.

As you walk around using Pokémon Go’s map, you’ll encounter PokéStops at landmarks. Here, players can obtain items to help them catch more Pokémon, so it’s not uncommon to find players gathered at these locations.

There is no definite goal to Pokémon Go other than to catch every pokemon available (i.e. the 151 original Pokémon). As you capture more of one Pokémon, that Pokémon gets stronger. Once you reach a certain level, you can choose a team: Red, Blue, or Yellow. These team battle for territory by capturing a holding Pokémon Gyms at major landmarks around the world.

It might sound like a lot, but getting started is as simple as downloading the game on your phone. From there, Pokémon Go will walk you through everything you need to know.

Why should Pokémon fans care?

People who grew up with Pokémon all had the same fantasy: Hunting real Pokémon in the real world. Before technology reached the level it’s at today, no one imagined that fantasy would actually come true.

Even for Pokémon fans who think they’ve grown out of it or who don’t think they have time for a video game, Pokémon go is worth checking out just for the nostalgia.

Why should parents care?

Your children either love Pokémon Go, or would love Pokémon Go if they tried it. In fact, many parents love it as well. However, there are a few things about Pokémon Go that parents should be aware of.

If you’ve been following the news, you may have heard about one of the many incidents involving Pokémon Go. Among them are the unexpected discovery of a dead body while searching for Pokémon and armed robberies at PokéStops. Keep an eye on your children and make sure they’re being careful as they play.

Also worth noting is the fact that Pokémon Go uses microtransactions to make money. This means players can spend real money through the game in order to buy items. In the past, this has proven disastrous for children who mistakenly spent thousands of dollars on in-app purchases. Make sure you and your children understand how spending through Pokémon Go works.

Why should gamers care?

Many gamers have been disappointed by Nintendo’s decisions over the past few years. The company has proven to be somewhat stubborn in maintaining certain ideals and not delivering what many fans want. Despite historical love for Nintendo, maturing fans have had a hard time sticking with the company.

Pokémon Go has given gamers a new reason to give Nintendo a chance. It’s somewhat mind-boggling that Nintendo hadn’t entered the mobile space sooner. This could mean they’re finally loosening up and are ready to give gamers what they want.

If nothing else, Pokémon Go is worth trying out because it’s the first major augmented reality game.

Why should business-owners care?

With Pokémon Go, Nintendo has opened up a new category of games and apps. They’ve proven that nostalgia is a powerful tool that makes people respond. They’ve shown that augmented reality can work for major games. You should expect to see similar and competing apps in the near future.

Pokémon Go is also a viable tool for marketing. On average, people use Pokémon Go more every day than top apps like Instagram and Snapchat. Small businesses have been advertising themselves as PokéStops, Pokémon Gyms, and otherwise Pokémon-friendly locations. Like any trend, Pokémon Go is an opportunity to connect with your audience. Grab a phone and start sharing your Pokémon Go adventure.

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