If it gets people off the couch and out exploring, it’s a good thing.
This is what we’ve always said at 50 Campfires, and it holds true for Pokemon GO. Before we get into that, let’s answer a few other questions.
What is Pokemon GO?
The best way to think about it is to compare it to geocaching. That’s an activity where people use their phone (or GPS several years ago) to find “caches” hidden all over the world. It’s an incredibly fun way to add some adventure to an ordinary walk. It turns it into a treasure hunt, and you feel a sense of satisfaction.
So, whereas in geocaching you have physical objects hidden all over the place, in Pokemon GO you have digital objects that are hidden all over, that have fixed coordinates on a map. The only way you can interact with them is to go to that place with the map inside of Pokemon GO. When you get there you can interact with it in variety of ways.
I’m a big fan of gaming, and know that certain games do an excellent job of developing problem solving and abstract reasoning skills, but have always wanted another category of games that are more physical. Nintendo had a home run in this area with the Wii, and sold over 100 million consoles. We all had a lot of fun with the Wii but it was sort of like Twister, in that the physical component wore off after awhile and realized you were still stuck in your living room. Pokemon GO brings the real world of walking and exploring together with the infinite possibilities of the digital realm.
Why is it so massively popular?
I went down to Centennial Lakes several nights ago, which is a large park build around a man made lake near my home. Let me set the stage here: it was 90 degrees out, with 70% humidity. It was terrible. Oh, and it was a Monday. On any previous day like this almost no one would have been milling around. My wife and I rounded a corner to see several hundred kids talking with each other excitedly, walking around, and of course, looking at their phones. It was alive. People were sitting on every conceivable surface and interacting in a public space in a lively, positive way.
It doesn’t matter what team you’re on or what play style you are, or even, if you’re brand new. We all enjoy playing. It’s something brand new. It’s something we all can enjoy no matter who we are. It doesn’t matter at all. It’s more open that way, I think – Dan, who was laying in a hammock collecting Pokemon on his phone.
“The reason why this is hitting off so well is because there are so many people at that age that have their own phones and that can afford doing this. Because Pokemon started at the generation with people that are [now] in their mid 20s and stretches all the way back to kids just getting into Pokemon right now…it has this huge generational group. People who are older than that probably think this is very kiddish because they don’t have that nostalgia” says OttoAtex4, (username) a fellow in his mid 20s who was having a great time just hanging and conversing with everyone while also playing the game.
Why do we love it so much?
Do we play Pokemon GO around the office at 50 Campfires? We don’t. We don’t even know much about it, and that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the game puts you on your feet and gets you out the door. This is what matters. The potential of location-based gaming has always excited us. Think about the collaboration that Nintendo could have with National Parks. Hundreds, even thousands of people would visit trails, waterfalls and canyons for the first time. Yes, they’re eyes are on the phone, but they’re also on the surroundings. Meeting fellow Pokemon GO players at the bottom of the Grand Canyon to visit a virtual point of interest? Awesome. Why would we care how they got there? They are people that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Like we always say at 50 Campfires, if gets people off the couch and out exploring, it’s a good thing.