I am a mom of three and recently my kids all got hooked on the newest craze, Pokémon Go. (It is worthwhile to note my kids are all between the ages of 24 and 30 years old.) It’s so funny to see them excited over the very same characters that gave them a huge thrill when they would wait in line at the game store for a new pack of Pokémon cards between 8 and 13 years old. The way their eyes would light up at the glimpse of a holographic card as they opened the pack was the same I see when there is a Pikachu in the front yard now, and the very same disappointment and quick dismissal of cards they’ve already collected appears when they see it’s just a zubat flying by the Starbucks and turn their phone down and return to conversation.
I imagine they feel a lot of the same nostalgia as they meet up with friends and compare stats, then battle for power over their local hotspots. They joined different teams (just as they had different color versions of the game growing up) and are now battling to keep the gyms at their home and work under their teams control. As they grew up playing this game, with tiny Pokemaster digital creations in their Gameboys, they all had the same wish- that it could be REAL. Despite the TWENTY years that have now passed, the child inside of them is unbelievably delighted to finally be given the chance to make their childhood dream come true. They proudly roam the streets waiting for a rare Pokémon to pop up, shouting to fellow players when there is a Scyther just down the street. My daughter even dropped a Pokémon off at the gym at her brother’s work after hours on her way home from a meeting for him to battle in the morning.
My daughter went out Monday night to celebrate her birthday and was shocked to see the usually quiet streets milling with people. One glance at the Pokémon App explained it all, she saw that there were three pokestops at the waterfront with lures drawing all of these people. She went inside and after an hour left to walk to another establishment and along the walk encountered no less than 100 people with new friends and old, catching and battling their Pokémon’s. Quick tip: Ben and Jerry’s at the waterfront of Old Town, Alexandria is a gym, and a highly competitive one apparently. As she walked through she heard excitement, joy, and friendly banter which was so incredibly refreshing after how heavy this world has become. She ran into old friends who she rarely sees and with the simple act of pulling out her phone she made new ones.
Industry experts have been trying everything they can think of to attract and engage the Millennials and it seems to be that Nintendo has found a hook. They are giving them a unique way to link up with one another and leave their assumed social circles to interact, combining it with some of their favorite things; true social engagement, nostalgia (reminiscing about their childhood), and technology.
Technology used for meeting up and connecting has been attempted by different dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, and when the craving for new friendships was recognized Bumble BFF was released to encourage non-romantic meet-ups. We saw the true foreshadowing of augmented reality entertainment with the incredible surge Snapchat saw after introducing their filters, giving people a chance to meet up with friends and swap faces with one another (or their pet) with hilarious results. Seeing the next step in augmented reality have amazing success, companies will look even more to augmented reality in their creations in the near future.