As I walked down to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the harbourfront in Toronto, a crowd mostly comprised of young adults were absorbed on their phone. I turned to my friend who said something to me that is rather conflicting: “Yeah! Let’s be anti-social together with Pokemon GO!”
As most people know by now. Pokemon GO is an free-to-play augmented reality game. At the start of the game, you create an avatar that represents you on the game’s map, and as you physically move in the physical world, the avatar moves with you.
As you walk, you will randomly encounter wild Pokemon that you can capture with your Pokeballs. There are Pokestops and Gyms, which is marked by real landmarks such as artworks and historical sites. Pokestops serves to replenish your items, while Gym allows you to battle with your Pokemon after join one of the three team, for which you conquer and defend as much gym for members of your Pokemon Go team as possible.
It is without a doubt that Pokemon GO had a profound effect on the world after its release. It even surpassed Facebook, Twitter and Tinder as one of the most viral mobile app for all time. Nonetheless, it even inspired PokeDate, a dating service that aims to pair couples playing the game together. But more importantly, just like FreeConference, it is something that is unites people together in the midst of this dark time of terrorism and political tension.
As many of us have heard on news and social media, people from different walks of life who you will never expect to interact with one another were able to strike a conversation about what pokemon they had caught, or people hosting ‘lure party’ to attract pokemon, which instead drew complete strangers together.
Adding to it, the phenomena also sparked self-improvement and social goods. Players reported that Pokemon GO is a more effective panacea for anxiety and depression than any therapy and medication. People are getting up on their feet to catch eggs and to get items finally found a good excuse to exercise and burn calories. An animal shelter even elicited a great response from players to become volunteer dog walkers while being on the move.
People are getting off their couch and discovering places and art within the town and city that they had never lay their eyes on. That said, business owners are cashing-in by taking advantage of nearby Pokestops and “teams” discount. An once struggling ice cream shop was resuscitated owing to the success of the game.
Back at the terminal, while everyone is so focused on their screen, people were actually starting to talk to one another, and even share food and portable battery. Sometimes, a flash mob was even formed when someone spotted a rare pokemon is spawning nearby on their tracker.
And she was right; for we are all just a bunch of misfits bonded by the game to fulfil our childhood dream of becoming Pokemon Trainer. As Ash Ketchum always say, you just Gotta Catch ‘Em All!