I’m well aware this isn’t my normal kind of post. I have however, made it my mission to write openly and honestly this year, and so I thought it would be a shame to gloss over something that I’m actually really enjoying. Unless your head is still buried in the sand post-Brexit (for which I don’t blame you), chances are you’ve heard of Pokémon Go, a new app that seems to have quite literally taken over the world in the past week.
Pokémon arrived in the world when I was at primary school and quickly became one of my favourite things to do. I was addicted to the gameboy game where I tried so hard to be the very best (like no-one ever was…), watched all the TV shows and movies, and collected, swapped and battled cards as often as I possibly could. Other than the odd dabble in Mario Kart on the Game Cube, and the Sims on our old slower-than-slow family PC, Pokemon is really the only digital game I’ve ever enjoyed, so you can imagine my delight at finding it on my phone, 10+ years down the line.
In the week since it’s release, it’s become something of a phenomenon, the likes of which I’m not sure I’ve not seen before. I found an early download link before the UK app store launch, the day after the game became available in the US, and immediately found scores of Brighton residents doing the same thing. I found a Facebook page which has grown expansively over the past week, connecting likeminded individuals and organising events and meetups across the city, all thanks to this funny little game.
In short, it’s an augmented reality game where you can catch Pokemon in your everyday surroundings. The game displays as a map of the local area, and to control your character you have to travel in real life. There are ‘pokestops’ at monuments where you can collect prizes, and Gyms where you can battle other players to earn coins. All of these locations in the game translate to real places in the city which you have to visit, making it an unbelievably active game. In the nearly a week and a half I’ve been playing for, I’ve walked nearly 50km (the app tracks it for you), and come across hundreds, if not more, of other Brighton residents doing the same. It’s become a wonderfully social game too, I’ve spoken to people I would never have normally spoken to, and I’m hearing amazing stories already of people making friends at impromptu gatherings which wouldn’t have happened without this app.
It is of course, just an app, but for me at least it’s been so much fun. I’m exploring places in the city that I otherwise wouldn’t have been to, and seeing sights from different angles which has turned out to be the most incredible way to adventure in your home town, and see it through different eyes. It might not be your cup of tea, but something that makes you exercise, go outside and meet new people can only be a positive thing in my opinion!
*ps thanks to Loz for the title of this post. If you get it, you and I would probably get on rather well.