Thursday, 13 October 2016

"The summer we played Pokemon"

This summer, I came over a blog post on a Norwegian news website. It was written by an adult man (I'm roughly 40 years old, and he was older than me, but I hesitate to use the word "elderly")  and complaining about how popular augmented reality games had become. This post, which I can't remember the URL to, came out when the popular game Pokemon Go had been out for a couple of weeks.
Screenshot of Pokemon Go showing a Diglett emerging from the ground

There was one sentence in this post that stuck in my mind. "I don't want to remember this summer as the summer we played Pokemon". I have thought about this, and can't find anything wrong at all with the idea. How is "the summer we played Pokemon" different from "the summer we played frisbee golf"? When I have spent summers with my family on my parents' rural property, there has always been some outdoors game or activity that has been this year's major hit. One year frisbee, one year badminton, one year football...

To put this into perspective, the summer of 2015 was the summer we played Ingress. 2015 was not a good year for us. We needed an excuse to get out and focus on something else than the Big Bad Thing that was going on. Ingress was invaluable.
Screenshot of Ingress showing blue and green portals and fields

Ingress has a function that tracks the number of unique location visits. The summer of 2015, we made it our mission to increase that stat as much as possible. We went exploring in towns and cities close to where my SO grew up, visiting parts that even he had never seen before. With our phones in our hands, we learned so much about this area's culture and history. We also went on a fielding op with other people. How many games bring people together, physically, like this? When we need to stand on a real, physical location in order to do our thing in the game, we are bound to sooner or later meet other players. We are still in contact with those people, even now that we live in another country.

Pokemon Go appeals to a younger audience than Ingress, in average. Most Ingress players I have met average around 40 years old. Pokemon, on the other hand, has attracted large groups of teenagers on bikes. Many players have been even younger, even if the game has an age limit of 13. My point is: It makes people go outside. It makes people walk. In fact, in Pokemon Go, walking several km is the only way to hatch eggs.

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