Pokemon Go. Today I am seeing it covered in Google News. Not in the “You might be interested in” category, or technology etc. This is being covered in the Big Story section.
I am smack in the middle of the biggest gaming phenomenon that I’ve ever been part of. I can’t recall anything this big, where it literally hits tons of normal people, and I’m in it. I counted 8 articles on Kotaku in the space of a few days, and Wilhelm did a good job covering much of the media hype. People are even talking about this in my office – all these financial types with no interest in gaming.
Every news outlet is talking about this. The Pokemon Go Subreddit is now one of the largest, I believe 4th most subscribers. The Reddit memes and jokes are in every subreddit. And again, Wilhelm did a great job linking up all the gamers blogging about it including sending yours truly some traffic.
The game has been out for less than a week – then again, that’s not that weird. Movies are popular when they first come out and are forgotten in a few months after that. But it’s out for one week, and everyone is playing it, and I do mean that literally.
Sunday. My boy is back from camp and I’m letting him veg out. But I’m going out to do a few things –
- Buy him a bike seat.
- Buy propane – camping trip soon.
- Ingress, Canyon Country is too green.
- Pokemon, if I remember to play it.
As I do the drive past portals I switch between Pokemon and Ingress, then come up on a spot with a gym. I try out my first gym battle. Blue has taken the portal with a single Raticate. I try training/adding a Pokemon, which means I have to fight the creatures already there. I lost. I just tried out non-evolved and non-powered-up Pokemon with low CP against a 300 point creature and I got smacked down hard. I glyphed the Ingress portals nearby and got ready to drive off to the next spot.
And what do I see ? A gang of about 6 kids walk past, clearly playing the game, and take the gym for Yellow team. They put a 400 CP monster to guard it. I smile and drive off.
Then I get to the bike store. This is a neat spot – directly behind it is a cluster of four portals (A church property) I can use to blue up a significant chunk of Canyon Country. But why is that guy idling in the parking lot of the church for ? I spy the Pokemon app on the passenger’s device and snicker.
I didn’t end up snickering for long. While I bought the bike seat and Ingressed, no fewer than FOUR vehicles showed up to Pokemon the area. I waved to the one couple, who looked at me standing outside of my truck with interest. The universal greeting seems to be to hold up your phone and smile. That’s when I realized, this game is BIG NEWS. When they say everyone is playing it, they ain’t kidding.
As I ran the rest of my errands I saw other people walking and staring at their phones – the tell seems to be holding the phone vertically, which is how the AR in the game works. I turned off the AR view but most people apparently don’t. The spot by the drug store that had a lot of Pokemon did not disappoint for the live version – I captured six in this little alley by a dry wash, amusingly represented in Pokemon Go as a river.
On the way home I stopped by a different gym and tried out my now-evolved creatures against yet another Red gym. I burned down a thousand points off of it but it stayed Red. That’s fine, I’m clearly outmatched here, a successful fight was good enough. The combat is kind of stupid – tap the phone repeatedly. Hope your Pokemon kills the other one. I suppose if I still had good twitchy reflexes I could dodge and time things better but button mashing the screen – is that screen mashing? – worked well enough.
But that was yesterday. Today, I’m at work in Beautiful Downtown Burbank.
I took my lunchtime Ingress walk across Downtown Burbank and was amazed at the number of people with smartphones out, probably playing the game. I didn’t spy the game on anyone’s screen this time, but judging by the number of Lures in use (A cash shop item, no less – people are paying cash money already) there are multiple people/groups playing the game.
It would be better if it was actually a better game. But it’s fun, for now. And being part of a phenomenon like this is pretty interesting.