I confess – I am still that person walking in front of you on the way to the bus with their head down and feet shuffling and more concerned about the Onix that is refusing to be caught, no matter how many ultra balls and raspberries I throw at it, than the small riot being caused by high school students over the road.
I was introduced to the game in July 2016, only days after its app store release, by the kids that I was working with on a residential event at the time. “Are your phones attached to your faces, or am I just that boring?” I’d ask them as we walked from the halls that we’d spent the night in towards the cooked breakfast waiting for us a the University Campus Kitchen. “No, there’s just so many pokémon here!” They told me. Pokémon was not something I had heard of in a very long time, so I laughed it off pretty quickly because I’ll be damned if I wasn’t excited for my veggie sausages and baked beans.
Little did I and my colleagues know, barely 24 hours later, we were all sat around during the evening’s “pub” quiz starting our never ending collections of Pidgeys.
That was almost a whole year ago – why am I still playing it now?!
Only a month or so after the Pokémon hype began, rumours started flying about rival games. “Pokémon Go except it’s Harry Potter and you collect spells and stuff!” But here we are, April 2017, and there is no competition. Remember how Candy Crush was the catalyst for hundreds of games where you swiped around various items? How Flappy Bird and Temple Run had us tapping our screens like there was no tomorrow? This just hasn’t happened with Niantic’s augmented reality game.
Not only is the game the only one of its type, it has grown and grown in its individuality since day one. Pokémon Go Plus hit the market in September 2016 encouraging players to be part of the game without even being on their phone. The wristband that resembles a Fitbit (though a little more garish and covered in pokeballs) tracks the player’s steps and allows them to catch the wild Pokemon with just a tap of their wrist instead of a swipe of the screen.
Generation 2 of Pokémon arrived in March 2017, giving the game a new lease of life for new players and old. It may not be the big hit that it was in the summer (I once sat outside Norwich Castle surrounded by probably about 50-60 other people all of whom were all about catching the Drowzees) but those who fell in love with the game then fell in love with it all over again. Yes, I was one of them.
Last week, during the Easter Eggstravaganza, I found myself walking just about everywhere to gain those KM’s, hatch those eggs and fill out that Pokedex and I was not alone. I had friends who’d jumped back into the game just for the event and, for the first time since last summer, I felt like part of a really nerdy Pokémon community. I hate to say it, but Niantic have nailed getting players downloading the game again and I suspect they have something up their sleeves to keep us playing over summer 2017.
And to be honest? I can’t wait!