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Pokemon GO is not about Pokemon

PokemonGO

No matter how often you do or don’t frequent social media, chances are you’ve been hit by this week’s wave of Millennials (and other cool people) scouring civilization for Pokemon. Here in Charleston the streets and parks have been filled with hopeful trainers looking for loot and powerful Pokes. So what makes this game such a big deal, and why are so many people going crazy over it?

To understand what’s going on, we need to talk about a few trends in young adult culture these days. One of these trends is increased isolation. More and more people are opting for a quiet night at home over a physical social gathering. We aren’t “hanging out” together like we used to. We have the ability to be in constant conversation with each other from the comfort of our homes. Whether we’re meeting up over social media or an MMO or Skyping with our distant friends and family, many of us are choosing to do so from environments we create- our homes or coffee shops. Unfortunately this can mean we aren’t meeting as many new people in person. It can mean we don’t show up to college functions or church get togethers, don’t join community sports teams or the clubs you see posted at the library. Working alongside this trend is the explosion of video game culture. Video games are no longer confined to nerds (unless, of course, we’re all nerds now). They aren’t something only kids do or something we’re expected to grow out of. Instead of leaving our games behind, we’ve taken them with us. Pokemon has continuously been an outstanding example of this, check out the age demographics in this article from siliconera.com. But why is Pokemon GO such a hit?

Here’s my perspective as a 24-year-old. Last night I went out into Charleston for a burrito, and for the first time in my life the city was filled with people doing something I felt like I could identify with. In Marion Square, a park at the heart of my city, there were hundreds of people gathered together meeting each other for the first time. They had a reason to get out of the house and get together, a reason to make friends and an incentive to get to know new people. This is incredibly significant as this is the first time I’ve seen something like this happen on such an enormous scale. And something else- I got up at 6 a.m. on Saturday and went for a walk. I’ve never wanted to get up early. I’ve rarely wanted to go for a walk just for the sake of walking. At six o’clock I was bright-eyed and ready to venture out into Charleston. Pokemon GO introduced me to nearly a hundred businesses, streets, and interesting locations that I’d never seen in my life. I saw murals and pastry shops, met parents out with their kids and people headed out early before work. I know roads and directions to places I could have never gotten to before. Why? Because Nintendo gave me an incentive to get out and learn. No game has ever felt so healthy.

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This entry was posted on July 11, 2016 by .
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