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Pokémon GO Has Been Improving Our Communities and Our Lives in All Kinds of Ways

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It’s been a week since
Pokémon GO was released in the United States, and its popularity has already grown to a monstrous level befitting of the series for which it’s named. It surpassed 15 million downloads, became the fastest game to ever become the top-grossing mobile app, and even made short work of smartphone regulars such as Tinder and Snapchat.

It’s still far too early to say whether or not
Pokémon GO will be remembered as a turning point in Nintendo’s or augmented gaming’s history, but we’d like to take a moment and share some of our experiences and reflections on the game.


Adam (Junior Editor)

Even though Pokémon GO released about a week ago, I didn’t get to spend much time on it until last Monday. My roommate asked me if I wanted to go catch Pokémon after work that night and I wasn’t about to say no. We drove to a nice area downtown where there are about eight PokéStops and two gyms. I noticed that there were quite a few people walking around, which I found strange at first since it was so late at night. It took me a while to realize that they were all playing Pokémon GO. I never thought that one game could bring a small town like this together. It truly is something special.

Dan Kulesza (Facebook admin)

This game has been an incredible experience for me and my girlfriend. Our walks have become adventures, and the sights we’re seeing are unlike anything before! From passing by countless young adults out and about on bike paths and sidewalks enjoying Pokémon, to scoffing joyfully at over 10 players with poor allegiances defending their Blue gym at a local 9/11 memorial, I can tell that this game is bringing some life back to the real world. In one way or another, I am living a childhood dream; I was a Gym Leader (even if only for a day)!

Elijah Holt (Associate Editor)

Pokémon GO is a cultural phenomenon that I feel has benefited my community as a whole. This past weekend, I went to my town’s park and banded together with some fellow teammates to take one of the highly contested gyms. The battle swung back and forth until we finally got soaked in a thunderstorm. Never before have I seen people in my town, friends and strangers alike, united and interacting with a common goal. Despite being raining out, everyone involved seemed to have a ball. I think it’s great that something like came from one of my favorite video game franchises, and I’m looking forward to catching some interesting Pokémon and hitting up some PokéStops on my next vacation.

Fernando Trejos (Associate Editor)

In my lifetime, there has never been a game as universal and impactful as Pokémon GO. Nearly everyone I know plays the game, including people who would never have picked up a main series Pokémon game in their lives. Pokémon GO has become a subject of conversation among complete strangers, and has given millions of people a reason to leave their homes and make new relationships. For the first time, this kind of phenomenon isn’t isolated to the gaming world; this game affects the lives of normal people in a surprisingly real way.

I’ve been traveling outside of my hometown for the past few days, and on the day after
Pokémon GO‘s release, I happened to go on a free guided tour of the city that I’m visiting. Halfway through the tour, the guide turned around, and realized that nearly half of her audience was on their phones, and had taken the tour solely to find new Pokémon everywhere in the city. The guide laughed, and commented that this had happened more than once since the game had launched. To me, seeing a new title in one of my favorite game franchises have this big of an impact on everyday life was astounding.

Brent Papenfuss (Stream Team)

Pokémon GO is smart about making me move. Around my house, it creates encounters with Pokémon like Pidgey and Ratatta, but shows that a Venasaur can be found if I walk far enough. Clearly I want a Venusaur more than my 50th Pidgey, so of course I run after it! I think that’s the best thing I can say about GO: that it’s encouraging me to actually leave my house and walk. I’m a tad on the obese side, so this is quite literally a breath of fresh air for me. Not sure if I’ll lose some weight just by playing GO, but putting in a mile of walking every day certainly can’t hurt. Plus there is a Pokémon Gym across the street that is currently owned by Team Instinct, and that just cannot stand.

Steven Rollins (Associate Editor)

I work with a small group of about four people everyday, and while we’ve been close from the moment we first met each other, nothing has brought us closer than
Pokémon GO. We would occasionally go out to eat to hang out for a while after work, but ever since the game was released, we’ve been organizing daily Pokémon hunting trips together. Though we’ll only be together for the summer, our bond will last forever onward. Friendship and adventure… isn’t that what Pokémon is all about?

Jeff Edelstein (Twitter/Copy Editor)

Pokémon GO is not only fun; it actively affects the way people go about their day. I’ve purposely taken longer walks to and from work just to have a little more time with the title, especially when lures pop up. That’s not to say it’s perfect, or even revolutionary as a game in and of itself – it’s still seriously buggy and the gameplay is extraordinarily simple. But it is undeniable that this is a match made in heaven that, for once, is generating a lot of much-needed positive vibes in the gaming community. I am excited for what the future holds for Pokémon GO in terms of improvements to the software as well as Nintendo’s inevitable capitalization on its popularity through the main series. For now we can only speculate, and hope to dear Arceus that this is not the future Pokémon GO will bring about.

Also, to those nice folks who were looking for that Squirtle just as I was catching it: I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Will Marsh (Copy Editor)

“Hey, you with the phone! Do you know when that Pokémon GO app comes out?” — Slowpoke

Memes aside, Pokémon GO recaptures and intensifies the feeling of magic and adventure I felt my first time starting Blue Version on Christmas Day, 1998. The gameplay is rather shallow compared to a main series Pokémon title, but this app’s emphasis on community building and exploration does what the Game Boy’s link cable could only dream of. I find myself going on more walks, chatting with complete strangers about this longtime childhood fantasy brought to life, and wondering why I seem to be the only player in town without a Pikachu.

Local businesses are taking advantage of the craze with “Lure parties” and specials (I tried something called a “Victini Martini” tonight), and my hometown has even made a
Pokémon GO visitor’s guide. As a new, stressed out grad student, I also cannot stress enough what a healthy distraction Pokémon GO can be in many ways. When I need a study break, I just take a quick walk around the block and either reinforce or dominate the nearby gyms for Team Mystic, getting much needed fresh air and exercise, and clearing my head in the process.

My sister even introduced the kids she babysits to
Pokémon GO this week, and they absolutely loved it. One of them immediately wanted to know everything about Pokémon and get into the main games, which is one of the best possible business outcomes of Nintendo breaking into the mobile market.


What has your experience with
Pokémon GO been like so far? Has it surprised you with new experiences, or are you still waiting for what’s to come? Share with us in the comments below!

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