For years, millions of children dreamed of a world inhabited by the mysterious creatures known as Pokemon. Now 20 years after the release of the original Pokemon games for the Nintendo Game Boy, the world was introduced to the current phenomenon Pokemon Go, a mobile game by Google’s Niantic Labs.
Pokemon Go, as if you haven’t heard of it, turns your smartphone into a Pokedex, allowing you to catch Pokemon in the “real world” using AR technology. The game was an overnight success, adding $4.5 billion to Nintendo’s market value a day after its launch.
In the game, players will encounter Pokemon in specific locations in the real world, meaning that in order to catch them all, players have to go outside and walk around to find them. This resulted in millions of people getting lots of exercise, parks being repopulated with people, and thousands of seemingly serendipitous encounters every hour. It is safe to assume that a group of 3 or more people walking down the street with their noses buried in their phones are playing the game.
It has helped hundreds of people with social anxiety and other mental disorders including depression. By encouraging people to go outside and engage with others through a common interest, many people with these social disorders are experiencing improvements to their mental heath.
Even though the game is only a month old, it is hard to imagine life before Pokemon Go. It is being talked about everywhere from televised news, to the radio, and church sermons. Everybody wants to ride the wave of Pogo’s success. For instance, many local businesses are now offering discounts to Pogo players while both American presidential nominees have tried to leverage its popularity in their campaigns.
While the TSG editors don’t think it is much of a game, its cultural penetration is unprecedented and for that Pokemon Go wins our Game of the Month.