Pokemon Go is Social Evolution…No, seriously!
It has been said that ‘Facebook wants to know what’s on your mind?, that Twitter asks what’s happening?, but Pokemon Go says “Get off your ass and go outside” … and it’s changed everything!
It would be easy to write Pokemon Go off as a gimmick, or even a desperate marketing ploy from the meandering gaming whale that is Nintendo. But don’t be fooled, forget evolving pokemon, this is social and technological evolution.
To be frank much of this year has felt like a bad dream, or at the least a vomit fuelled projection of everything Charlie Brooker told us would happen. Indeed, prior to it’s launch I was convinced Pokemon Go would be added to the list of 2016’s cosmic anomalies. The year that will be consigned to history as ‘20WTF! Can we replay this level, oh shit there’s no replay button, FML’.
Yet now, I’m not so sure.
Amongst your Full English Brexits, just next to the stop-shooting-young-black-men-pudding, is a juicy baked bean of progress. A bean that will eventually be understood as a turning point in the history of mobile technology, and possibly social evolution, leading us all to better connected global society.
For me at least, the timing of Pokemon Go’s arrival was equally as bizarre, and I found myself choosing my poke-dudes outfit whilst standing in the entrance of my first ever gaming industry conference (Develop). A nerdy symposium nestled between the sea and the biennial Unite the Union policy congress. Technological change and social change standing side-by-side with neither party acknowledging the others existence.
Yet ironically it’s exactly these movements which are combining to push the boundaries of social and technological progress. Pokemon Go players are finding themselves walking miles further per day (good news) in order to hunt down rare Pokemon, explore the game/real-life map, and hit the Pokegym with a few deep lunges and (finger) curls along the way. And they are not doing this alone (more good news). The Great British conundrum, consisting of the constant struggle between feeling equally self-righteous and self-conscious, is being obliterated. It’s like the moment in 22 Jump Street when Channing Tatum realises that kids these days, and in many ways society, no longer one strap their backpacks becasue it’s impractical, and with it no longer hold being dope in such high regard. These days real world achievements, knowledge and actually doing stuff is cool.
Put it this way … I’ve seen a businessman catching Moewths over a fish lunch, before sending lame jokes to his son about the catch of the day. Huh. Cut through the middle aged privileged white male bants and you have a bloke using technology to bond with his son.
It’s exactly this integration of mobile technology and the real world that encourages human beings to talk to one another whilst exploring their local environment. Encouraged by technology this feels as much like the evolution of social media and social interaction as it does the evolution of mobile technology.
Instead of relying on a digital platform to communicate, we’re utilising a digital product to enhance real world conversations.
And Ok, the Pokemon Go social evolution isn’t a standalone movement, it sits within the wider context of a technological evolution. Where digital products are being used to enhance real world experiences, rather than escaping them.
Just look at fitness wearables, magic leap or smart fridges. All these things are here, or coming, but this is the first time in history that the mass market has adopted a mobile game that integrates entertainment, human interaction, physical exploration and technology (geolocation and wearables … and Pokemon). The likes of which have combined to create something entirely innovative, and even socially transformative.
And that’s got to be a good thing.
Evolution itself can be described as the gradual development of a living being, and so far this is exactly what I am witnessing through the lens of Pokemon Go. Maybe this evolution was always there, but in a year of relentless bad news Pokemon Go has really stood out as something to be proud of.
For me the Pokemon Go social evolution illuminates real world progress, at a minimum. Progress that sits amongst a wider evolutionary force towards a more connected society.
And even after all that, if you REMAIN unconvinced, surely you can see that Pokemon Go does represent yet another opportunity for technology to unite us all … in a quest to catch and train small anthropomorphic creatures.