Nostalgia + AR + Social Impact: Pokémon wins.

When you’re 2 weeks behind the times, you can actually see the themes emerging.

Emma Sedlak
Jul 29, 2016 · 10 min read

The Background

In early July, Nintendo released Pokémon Go in Asia, Australia, Germany, and the United States; in the past few days, they have expanded to the UK, Canada, much of Europe, and Japan.

The Personal Context

While I haven’t personally played Pokémon Go, I’m surrounded by it on all sides. During the first week of the release, my husband and brother-in-law walked through Sydney’s CBD at a snail’s pace, more interested in ‘catching ’em all’ than getting to our friend’s leaving drinks (Mr. Sedlak requests that I clarify: he has since removed the app. The wave, for him at least, has passed).

The Interview

The two biggest fans in the Real World office are most likely Elle (Administrative Assistant) and Lachlan (Service Engineer) — and only because David F. works on-site with our clients for a lot of the week (thus, he’s temporarily discounted from the category of fans ‘in the office’)

Why did you first install Pokémon Go?

Elle: It’s a really unique combination of childhood games with modern day technology. And I liked the fact that you had to be physical and mobile in order to use it, which is a distinguishing feature from other apps and games.

When did you first hear about it?

Elle: I first heard when it was announced last year. There has been a little hype around it’s release this year, but I didn’t think it’d take off like it did.

Are you lifelong Pokémon fans?

Elle: I didn’t really get into pokemon until much later in life, and really only played it to fill up my pokedex, rather than training to beat the elite 4 — which is probably why Pokémon Go appealed to me so much.

How did it integrate into your life? (has it interrupted downtime, hanging out with friends, etc?)

Elle: Rather than staying home on the weekends, moping around the house, my sister and I will make an effort to go for a walk to catch pokémon. To be honest, it goes from a walk around the block, to a couple of hours around the suburb pretty quickly. And exercise is always good for mental health, so I find that it improves my mood, and has had a positive impact on my social life :)

What are the best or most innovative features?

Elle: Probably integrating a pedometer like system to earn rewards, or in this case pokémon.

What are the worst or most annoying features?

Elle: Just going out of range of a pokémon. I play when I commute in the mornings and night. So I usually just miss a pokémon when public transport passes by it too quickly!

What is the social perception of Pokémon Go players (in your opinion)?

Elle: I think it’s been mostly favourable. For the most part, it seems to have had a positive reception. Although there has been a few instances of local disturbances and neighbourhood disruptions that aren’t very encouraging.

After a few weeks of playing it, are you still as engaged as you were to start with? Why/why not?

Elle: A little bit of yes and no.

Do you have any concerns about the use of Pokémon Go?

Elle: Potential accidents are concerning. Even though the game starts up with a warning to be alert of your surroundings, I feel like younger children — especially unsupervised — could hurt themselves quite easily.

Are there any areas of tech/society/pop culture you’d be excited if Pokémon Go expanded into or started to impact?

Elle: I’m excited for the makers to improve the tracking system to make it easier to locate specific pokémon. It would also be beneficial to expand the game in rural areas. In its current iteration, the game seems to favour more dense/suburban areas.

The Social Impact

Pokémon Go is so all-pervasive that even a retired teacher in Allentown, Pennsylvania (who, for full disclosure, is my mother) can recognise people playing it on the street. Even though she often refers to herself as the ‘urban Amish,’ she does own a smartphone, and has embraced technology’s ability to shrink distances between friends and family.

Craig Smith, an educator, researcher and autism expert, has built a guide for parents to use to educate their children using Pokemon Go outside of the classroom, or for people with autism to expand their horizons, with a focus on the game’s real world interactions.


“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”
― Jane McGonigal

Real World Group

Our home on Medium for Real World’s musings — some of our best thought pieces, service case studies, and product announcements. Contact us on 1300 798 718 or if you need help or advise with any of your IT&T needs!

Emma Sedlak

Written by

a nomadic poet with her hands in too many books. Lives at, works as a communications designer, moonlights as an opera singer/actress.

Real World Group

Our home on Medium for Real World’s musings — some of our best thought pieces, service case studies, and product announcements. Contact us on 1300 798 718 or if you need help or advise with any of your IT&T needs!