Pokémon Go Perfectly Encapsulates the Spirit of the Franchise

Something amazing is happening on Facebook this week. While there are a few exceptions, most of my friends are taking a break from their usual banter. Statuses about the upcoming election and police shootings are at an all-time low. The number of selfies posted from a sunny Floridian beach are quite low for this time of year. Better yet, almost everyone has ceased posting their inner thoughts and views on today’s socioeconomic landscape.

Instead, my Facebook feed is flooded with people talking about Pokémon Go.

Of course, depending on your age and the type of people you add on Facebook, your own feed might look a little different than mine. Granted, as a twenty-something-year-old with a lot of college age acquaintances, it’s not a complete surprise that my social media experience has been completely taken over by Pokémon. There’s bound to plenty of you who haven’t exactly been swept up by the Pokémon craze at some point in time, but for those who are my age, Pokémon was a landmark release in the late 90s. The onslaught of games, TV shows, films and merchandise that began twenty years ago caught the eye of many children, and at some point, everyone my age has spent some time with the franchise.

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I’ll be the first to admit: I haven’t spent that much time with Pokémon Go as of yet. As of the time of writing, all I’ve managed to do is download the app, set up my profile (and more importantly, claim my typical online moniker as my nickname), and capture Charmander while I was using the restroom. As someone who spends a lot of time playing video games (and writing about them), I’m in no rush to jump into Pokémon Go; after all, I know it will be waiting for me when I have more free time on my hands.

However, what’s completely blown me away so far is just how many people are giving it a go for themselves. As I mentioned earlier, while plenty of people my age have spent some time with the series during their childhood, I would never have imagined how powerful nostalgia can be. Sure, all the ‘hardcore gamers’ I know have already sunk in some decent playtime, but for every video game aficionado I see posting about their most recently caught Pokémon, I’m also seeing plenty of more casual players. From college jocks who only play the most bombastic of dude-bro military shooters, to coworkers who normally deride those who spend time playing video games, just about every ‘type’ of person I know is at least giving Pokémon Go a try.

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Above all, this is what makes me love Pokémon Go, despite having only played a few minutes of it myself. I’m sure we will all slink back into our typical lone-wolf routines when Pokémon Sun and Moon launches in a few months, but until then, I can’t help but enjoy the sense of camaraderie and exploration that Pokémon Go has managed to cultivate, despite only being available for a couple of days. For those who were unaware, series creator Satoshi Tajiri drew inspiration from his childhood, as he often spent time exploring outdoors, adding to his ever-expanding bug collection. Up until now, we’ve been content with experiencing the world of Pokémon through Nintendo’s line of handhelds, usually as solo adventures. It might not be all that in-depth or flashy as the main series of games, but Pokémon Go has finally allowed us to experience Pokémon as we’ve been imagining it for years. Sure, our eyes are still glued to a screen, but the sense of exploration and social exchange of successes and failures perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the Pokémon franchise to begin with. If you ask me, Pokémon Go is the most authentic Pokémon game to date.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run. My girlfriend just caught a Venonat in our bed and there’s a wild Pokémon in my neighbor’s apartment that needs catching.