Less than a week ago, the PlayStation Generation (and its predecessor) received the reality shock of a lifetime: Pokémon Go.
Nostalgia is washing over plenty of 90s kids at the thought of playing Pokémon again, but this recent installment is anything but the joysticks and Nintendos of video games past. Instead, Pokémon Go has revolutionized the virtual world that began decades ago by merging “real life” and “virtual life.”
How does that work, you may wonder? The app assigns the 151 original Pokémon characters to places within the game that mirror true geographic locations. In order to traverse the virtual realm, the gamer must take physical steps; progressing through the game relies upon the gamer’s ability to visit the real world settings that have been mapped in the virtual world. Capturing Pokémon does not require battling, like in previous installments, but rather throwing a pokéball with the right force and timing.
That’s right, ladies and gentleman, the top mobile app on the market actually challenges users to go outside and exercise in order to continue playing! The augmented reality app posits the gamer directly into the virtual world through exploration of the real world. Keeping iPhones and Androids close, hordes of gamers gather to capture their Pokémon favorites at landmarks, stop signs, schools, homes, churches, fields, rivers—you name it, a Pokémon is likely found there. You just have to be adventurous enough to pursue it—and fortunate enough to avoid things you are not looking to find.
Pokémon Go has become the top free app and top grossing app in the United States App Store since its July 6 select market release to the U.S. and Australia. CNN reports that the app is outperforming Tinder and approaching Twitter’s popularity with Android users. As further testament to the app’s success, Forbes has produced an ample guide cracking the basic secrets and loopholing the initial glitches of the app.
In one week following the app’s release, Nintendo’s market value skyrocketed by $7 billion—a huge turnaround for a company that has been hurting since the Wii fad faded. In-app purchases will be Nintendo and Niantic’s main source of revenue until the Pokémon Go Plus becomes available in late July. Since a wearable Bluetooth band vibrates when a Pokémon is near, the Plus will alleviate the player burden of constant phone-checking for possible captures.
The highly-anticipated mobile app has already attracted millions of smartphone users of all ages. Local gamers have even organized a Poké-walk to establish a group effort and uncover all of Boston’s Poké-secrets. Will you be next to catch 'em all?