It was around 6 PM in the evening. I was sitting in a park near my apartment, fully indulged in my phone. That park was special. Not because of it had a lot of greenery, birds and kids happily chirping away and playing, so many smiling people strolling-and-chit-chatting along their way to good health (who has time to see all that?), but where I was sitting, it had 2 PokéStops, equidistant. It was really fun… after every 5 minutes, I could use one of the stops and refill my PokéBalls and earn major XP without even walking. And then use another. On top of that, one could find many Pokémons there. And even better, within 50 m away, there was a Gym where I could battle with others.
Few more people like me, immersed into their phone screens, kept on walking around these Pokéstops to get as much as they could. But since I had grasped that middle seat, I could do all that just by sitting, and they had to keep walking. Mostly all strangers, but occasionally one would ask, so are you also playing ‘Pokémon GO’? Smiling, I would say, yeah, what all you have got till now?
This time, last year, in 2016, the middle part of July was really different. It was like a temporary cultural revolution of sorts. Whoever got to know about this game, downloaded apk files (where it wasn’t available yet) and jumped on to the roads and started playing. I had downloaded it, because that time I was living alone and since the monsoon-y weather was quite good to go around and walk. And also because I wanted to give my 2nd Speech in Toastmasters. Otherwise I had no interest in Pokémons at all. I didn’t watch their cartoons, as I though all of those Japanese cartoons look the same. 🙂
But for this game, I not only walked around kilometers during evening, but even in Night. Everytime I went out, I could notice people playing. Herds of youngsters, all looking into their phones and walking slowly and funnily. There was another Pokéstop near my place where I went to fetch some collectibles at 1.30 AM in the night. Only to return disappointed to see a group of girls, sitting under the tree there and guarding the place, figuratively, if not literally.
I even walked around in office campus during lunch time (and sometimes just for a break, you know!) to get as many new Pokémons I could catch. And, as I was using a bike to go to office, I used all my time in the jams and traffic to collect many more Pokémons and refill my bag with Pokémon collectibles on the way.
Best part about this was, that not everyone got it. But if you saw someone looking at their phones walking, and then suddenly stopping and doing incessant clicking, you could know that they were playing Pokémon GO!
And these were the scenes all over the world. People played this in cemeteries, walked into other people’s properties and sometimes almost got them killed trespassing, just to get a rare Pokémon. They used bikes where they didn’t want to walk. They stayed hours near water bodies because there they could find, some Pokémons which were available only near lakes and ponds. It was indeed a fun time, last year in July.
This could have become a thing. Unfortunately, their servers kept crashing down due to huge surge in popularity in so little time. Hence, they disallowed people, at least in southern part of India, to play. So my pastime from July 14 – July 21 was short-lived. It was released later but then the enthusiasm had worn off and I got involved in other life related activities that I gave up.
When you think about it, rarely few things happen, which grab attention of everyone in the world. Games are like that. It had become a rage. In park, the roads, small town, big cities, every where, everyone who was playing that, had a sense of common aim and a feeling of family like animosity. Indeed a rare feat (apart from everyone throwing ice-bucket over each other). With this technology of augmented reality, surely, in future, we would do more such stuff when people would be more ready. The thing with games is that it connects everyone alike and makes them do things normally they won’t even team up for.
Watch this video about how can gamers help us to do bigger things:
I downloaded Pokémon GO today again. I can see few stops, gyms and available raids nearby. But then, who will walk now?