So Pokemon GO is finally out, pretty much going quickly on to becoming a worldwide phenomenon. It’s the hottest game out right now, and probably the most popular release of 2016 so far.
My social media feeds are jammed with images of captured Pokemon. More and more people I know are giving in to its simple and addictive gameplay loop. It’s given me a whole new topic of interaction with people I usually only exchange polite small talk with. Or complete strangers. It’s pretty great.
Of course when something becomes as popular as Pokemon GO has, there are naturally people lining up to tell you how much they hate it. And you. And the other people who play it.
Looking down on “nerds” playing Pokemon has become some kind of art form. For every few posts I’ll see of a friend who just caught a rare Pokemon, or every conversation I have about what we’ve caught, there will come a Tweet, Facebook post, Instagram note or blog or news post written by someone who sneers at the game and those that play it. As if pointing out how stupid they find this latest craze makes them somehow better than the rest of us.
Newsflash: it doesn’t, it makes you look like an arsehole.
I’ll be the first to admit that the game isn’t great. I’ve made my complaints known numerous times. It’s buggy, constantly crashes, has a server meltdown every time its released in a new country, and just isn’t actually all that fun to play for longer than a few minutes.
Unless you’re in a major city centre. Or with some friends. Because while the software itself doesn’t run well at all, and the gameplay is probably too simple for its own good, the actual phenomenon of Pokemon GO is something else entirely. It’s not really the game that has caused the phenomenon, but rather sharing the experience of playing that has captured so many.
Pokemon GO is sending players out of their way to catch the creatures. Pokemon spawn all over the place, and if you want a hope in hell of “catching them all” you’ll need to make some trips out to find them. Unless you want to be stuck with Pidgey’s and Rattata’s for days.
It’s the social aspect of Pokemon GO that is equal parts fascinating, refreshing and simply awesome to see. A recent trip into the city was an eye opening experience for me. I’ve spent most of my playing time since launch being fairly isolated. I live in an area where Pokemon, Pokestops, Gyms and other Pokemon Trainers are few and far between.
The difference from my normal Pokemon GO routine and venturing into the city was like night and day. There were there were Pokemon everywhere. There were Pokestops every few steps. But it wasn’t until I reached the Monument at the centre of the city that I realised what Pokemon GO had actually done.
The Monument is a Pokestop and someone had dropped a lure on it. As such, anyone there didn’t need to go anywhere – the surrounding Pokemon were coming to us. And I’m talking a whole lot of Pokemon, a fair few of them were ones I had never even seen before. There were a heck of a lot of people gathered around the Monument, catching Pokemon of all shapes and sizes.
Naturally we all started to identify each other fairly easily. Groups were formed. All of a sudden people who would potentially never have even met in real life were gathered together, striking up friendly conversation as we played this simple smartphone game. We talked about the game, hoped the weather would hold up, told our favourite Pokemon stories and more.
Name that last game you played that brought people together in such a fundamental way.
I have no problem with people who just don’t like Pokemon GO. As I noted above, it’s got its issues for sure. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t get it, or don’t have any interest, that’s fine. I have no issue with any of that. This post isn’t about you.
This post is for the people who seem to think that they’re better than everyone playing the game. The people who write off its players as “children” and would prefer to behave like adults. The people who look down their noses at others simply having fun in a way that they don’t like.
The people who think we should all be living in doom and gloom and spend more time thinking about Brexit, the Turkish coup attempt, our new Prime Minister and all the other depressing things happening in the real world right now.
Miserable bastards, basically.
I’ve reached my limit of reading and listening to the musings of quasi-intellectual knobs who think that, because they don’t like a thing, that nobody else should like it either. As if their opinion is somehow worth more because they don’t catch Pokemon on their smartphone. Basically I’d like to say just one thing to them.
One of the greatest things about being an actual Human person is that I get to define what I like and don’t like. What I enjoy is no business of anyone else’s (an ironic statement coming from the owner of a video game blog, I know). I can enjoy whatever I want. So can you. I imagine there are things that you enjoy that I do not. What makes me mature is that I don’t mind. Enjoy what you want to enjoy. I may disagree, but I’m not arrogant enough to tell you that you shouldn’t enjoy it.
So for the people who think that “the desperately sad sight of real grown humans, with real lives and everything, walking around glued to their smart phones trying to find badly animated imaginary monsters is a haunting indictment of the state of the nation.”
For the people who wonder “What happened to the good old days, when gamers stayed firmly indoors with no need to venture outside and nerds feared social interaction?”
For anyone who thinks they’re superior for not liking a game or the, quite frankly awesome, effect it’s having on society – grow up, stop being immature and let people enjoy things.