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Pokémon Go takes players back to the 90s

The Clintons are trying to get back in the White House, Blink 182 just released a new album, there is new evidence against O.J. Simpson, Surge is back, there is a new Harry Potter book and everyone is playing Pokémon. Have we found a time machine to the 1990’s? It sure feels like it. Pokémon is one of the biggest comebacks the 90’s has brought us, and Pokémon Go has quickly taken the world by storm.

For better or for worse, Pokémon Go has infiltrated our culture in ways not even the makers of the app ever dreamed were imaginable. Simply put, Pokémon Go has changed the atmosphere of gaming. Although the game’s console is no longer a black and white Gameboy, Pokémon Go again gives its players a portable, mobile game.

Making over seven billion dollars in the first week of its release, app developer Niantic is now working on releasing Pokémon Go in more than 20 countries. People who were already looking down at their phones while walking return to the same epic past time, but instead of selfies or social media they are now trying to “catch ‘em all.”

The app has already inspired related gear and spinoff products. Game developer Nintendo currently has plans for a watch style device that will accompany the game called Pokémon Go Plus. The new device will allow players to know if they are near a Pokémon or PokeStop, and will allow them to search a stop or throw a Poke Ball with the press of a button.

If you are not convinced Pokémon Go will change game play or think it is just a fad consider this: the first Pokémon video games were released in America in 1998 alongside the anime; the card game was released in 1999. New Pokémon games and animes have been continuously released worldwide since then.

If the franchise was simply a fad, would people still be playing and watching it almost 20 years later? No. Pokémon would have faded away long ago if it was a fad, and its video games have always been popular. There are now currently more active followers of Pokémon Go than Twitter and Tinder, according to results from various app tracking surveys.

Social media, mass marketing, game designers and anime lovers all welcome the craze that took the world by storm in 1998 once again. Maybe the nostalgic feeling plays a part in the phenomenon, and maybe it is the comradery established between players who join teams Mystic, Valor, and Instinct. Whatever the draw to the game, Pokémon Go is definitely giving users an excuse to walk and see the real world once again.

Eevee on campus

Eevee on campus

For example, PokeStop locations are generally placed at a work of art, historical marker, monument, or something else of cultural or historical significance. Therefore, this game is not only getting people outside and exercising, but it is also taking people to important places and allowing players to explore new sights in their neighborhoods.

Multiple businesses are using the app as a marketing gimmick; many restaurants and businesses are offering discounts to players. There are also restaurants that have signs notifying people that they have a gym or stop at or near them. This game is helping to stimulate the local businesses, getting people to exercise and to learn more about their neighborhoods.

While the game has sparked controversy after being used as a lure for theft, or by causing distracted driving leading to car crashes, its cultural significance is much greater that its controversy. The world has witnessed an immense change in mobile technology, entertainment and the ways in which people interact with their natural surroundings and cellular devices. The effects of Pokémon Go transcend the effects of a mere fad, and its influence on popular culture will be felt for a long time to come.

Photo credit: Amanda Flynn & Auz Burger

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One Comment

  1. Carol Siegel says:

    Yes, bring back the 90s! My favorite decade! Great article.