It seems like we can’t go a day at the moment without reading about tragedy on social media, or turning on the TV to see the latest outburst of hatred and violence. 2016 has seen some of the worst acts of terrorism, mass shootings and unprecedented evil for some time, and there seems to be a new story every day. We can try and make sense of it, mourn the dead, pray for the living and question the motive in these attacks, or we can try to find something good – something positive to latch onto and welcome into our hearts.
Apologies for starting off on such a bum note, but in light of these horrific events, it’s deeply important to find light in the darkness, and Pokémon Go has come at exactly the right time. Not for a second do I think we should ignore what’s going on or not take things seriously, but I do think it’s important to stay strong and try to enjoy the good in the world – simple pleasures like friendship, communication and fun.
It’s a game with a fundamental premise: try to fulfill the franchise’s mantra of catching all 250 pocket monsters by finding them on street corners, at the park, on top of your Nan’s sofa or even at the gym. By using your phone’s GPS and internet data (or Wi-Fi), you are given a map of the area you’re currently populating, with telltale signs a Pokémon may be close. If you see a ruffling of leaves, make your way towards them and get your Pokéballs at the ready.
Through augmented reality, one of the little critters appears on your phone through your camera and it’s as if they’re stood right in front of you. Once you’ve flicked a Pokéball at it successfully, it’s yours forever. You can help it evolve, fight at local gyms (which can be anything from a local church, stately home of shopping centre) with other players and so much more.
Pokémon Go has been available for less than a month and has already taken over our lives; wherever you look, somebody has their phone out trying to find a new Pokémon they don’t already have. I went to a local park the other day and there were well over 20 people playing it including me, and on more than one occasion there was a subtle nod or smile from each of us to show appreciation and respect.
It’s seeing those smiles in the flesh, reading the influx of tweets from friends about their joy from catching their favorite Pokémon and the all-round good vibes the game is giving out. Friends of mine are organising Pokéhunts, and guys at the site have taken their kids out on hunts as well – it’s heartwarming to see. It’s promoting exercise, exploration and good health. Not only are you enthralled in the wonders of Pokémon Go, you’re also burning calories in the process.
Back to my original point: the world needs Pokémon Go. It’s bringing people together. Whether you’re making new friends or keeping in touch with old ones, it’s encouraging communication. I’ve spent hours talking with my friends about the best places to find a Jigglypuff, whether I should join Team Valor, Team Mystic or Team Instinct and when best to use a lure. We’ve shared stories about missing out on certain catches and our elation on finding some of our favourite Pokémon in the strangest of places, and it’s been so much fun.
It may only be a mobile game, but it’s ignited the world’s imagination and has helped make us appreciate the good in the world. There’ll always be catastrophe and sorrow, but we can’t let it consume us. Welcome a little fun into your lives and play Pokémon Go; I’m sure many of you already have (because our readers are a fabulous bunch), but if you’ve yet to experience the magic of Pokémon Go, I sincerely ask you to go and see what all the fuss is about.