Pokémon GO: Smart-phones Serving Joy

We are in the era of the virtual reality game Pokémon GO launched in July 2016. Facebook has a huge 7-digit number of people talking about this. TechCrunch reported on July 11 that Pokémon Go has been downloaded 7.5 million times since its debut and been at the top of Apple Inc.’s app store charts. Similar Web’s analytics shows the obsession for this game in its statistics that show the game’s users are logging an average of 43 minutes each day. Bhawini states that it commands more mindshare per user than apps like Snapchat or WhatsApp and is poised to have more daily active users in the U.S. than Twitter. It has yet to be launched officially in India but users have been able to get around this by downloading third party APKs or bypassing the country specific signup options for iOS. An exclusive report for Different Truths.

Just yesterday evening, we had this charged visitor at our place and he rushed to the lawn in a tizzy. It was only after he had caught what he sought that we came to know that he was just another kid taken in with the fever of the free-to- play location based augmented reality mobile game, Pokémon GO. As my brother invited him to stay for snacks and the two strangers chatted like old friends, I could feel their bond forming. This visit triggered the memories of the times when strongest of friendships bloomed out of cricket sixes being hit in the neighbour’s lawns or little boys forgetting altogether about school while they transcended much distance on foot catching those butterflies or other fascinating insects!

This is officially the time of Pokémon GO and technical gurus always knew that sometime it was going to be. That someday, augmented reality would engross the world, kids and adults alike. The entire population stands agape in awe to witnesses the power of augmented reality (while enjoying the charming absurdity of little monsters dancing on their desks), as it connects us to others and our environment in a way no technology has before. So here’s a Nintendo game for smart phones that sends people around the real world chasing virtual monsters. It was released in most parts of the world in July, 2016 and if you follow it on Facebook, you’ll find a huge 7-digit number of people ‘talking about this’. Its popularity seems fairly obvious as they are only two categories of people in the world today, the ones that are playing it and the ones who have someone playing it in their lawns.

This is the newest wrinkle of smile on the face of a world that is almost always buried deep in grief of some or the other sort. It has millions of people having put phone to face and roaming in their neighbourhoods. Layering the digital world over the real one, the game makes use of GPS and camera of iOS and android devices to capture, battle and train virtual creatures. Accredited with giving the users so much of an engaging experience that comes packed in a sense of achievement, what more can be expected of a game which lets you create your own avatar by selecting hair, skin, eye colour, style and outfit. It has given people 150 more reasons to walk and explore the world around them in an attempt to catch the 150 Pokémon currently available, battle against other users, and collect items to power up their arsenals of pocket monsters.

The app starts like Google Maps, plotting your location on a virtual landscape. You’ll see real parks, buildings and roads. Pokémon won’t pop up in the middle of a busy street, but they will appear around you. Your smart phone will vibrate in your pocket to let you know you’re near a Pokémon. The phone’s camera can be launched with a tap, and you’ll see the creature overlaid in your environment. Once you’ve encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smart phone’s touch screen (be careful, or it might run away) and swipe to throw the small red and white Poké Ball below to catch it. Boom, you’ve caught it!

Just a few days after its release, the game is already one of the top downloaded apps in both Android and iPhone stores. Though Niantic has not released official numbers, TechCrunch reported on July 11 that Pokémon Go has been downloaded 7.5 million times since its debut and been at the top of Apple Inc.’s app store charts. Similar Web’s analytics shows the obsession for this game in its statistics that show the game’s users are logging an average of 43 minutes each day.

“Pokémon GO has gone beyond success to become a phenomenon, topping the revenue grossing charts in the three regions into which it has been launched: the U.S., Australia and New Zealand,” says Deutsche Bank AG Analyst Han Joon Kim. It commands more mindshare per user than apps like Snapchat or WhatsApp and is poised to have more daily active users in the U.S. than Twitter. It has yet to be launched officially in India but users have been able to get around this by downloading third party APKs or bypassing the country specific signup options for iOS.

The game is winning accolades for making the whole world its playground and getting people out in the sunshine instead of being trapped indoors behind their computer screens. Health experts are of a positive opinion about the game’s ability to ensure physical and mental wellbeing of users and for the light hearted escape it offers from our otherwise mundane lives, suspending disbeliefs about limits. However avid players may encounter precarious situations when they are oblivious to everything else while trying “to catch ‘em all”. When hooked in the game, players swoosh past people on sidewalks, absentmindedly rush into traffic or are lured into trespassing upon private property. There have been reports of mishaps such as a teenager was killed while playing and a young man drawing the wrath of the Toronto Transit Commission when he walked alongside the tracks at Union Station. As the hot pursuit of the game’s creatures takes players to unlikely venues such as cemeteries, museums and hospitals, the responses it draws have been mixed-ranging from curiosity and amusement to annoyance and concern.

While the game does pose some serious questions about the ways to respect privacy and about which spaces to be set off limits, it is surely a welcome source of joy for a population that sees it as good riddance from everyday horrors.


©Bhawini Tripathi

Pix sourced by author from Net.

Bhawini Tripathi

Bhawini Tripathi

Bhawini Tripathi feels strongly about some issues and writes about those. Psychological issues and nature as a great teacher beacons her. Poems are her chosen genre though she pens prose too. She is currently pursuing my Bachelor of Technology from J.K. Institute of Applied Physics & Technology, University of Allahabad.
Bhawini Tripathi

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