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Pokémon Go still going strong

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If I’m ever walking from one location to another on campus while staring at my phone, no matter how (un)subtly I may be doing so, or how nonchalant I’m trying to appear, there is a 99% chance I’m playing Pokémon Go. And I have absolutely no regrets in saying that.

“But Zeke, Pokémon Go was only cool for about a month! At this point it is just a trash game that sucks away all your time and energy and causes you to morph into a shell of your former self.”

Honestly, that is not an entirely false statement, but I do take pride in being into the latest digital trends even far after they fade from the public eye and into obscurity. For instance, in a last-ditch effort to procrastinate on studying for finals last spring, I logged back onto my elementary/middle school Neopets account and spent an ungodly amount of hours playing Flash games. I was also playing Fruit Ninja and Doodle Jump on the regular back in 2015. This part of me also extends to resurrecting dead memes, but I’m not about to open up that wormhole.

Pokémon Go is actually a genius creation. I have been into Pokémon on-and-off since elementary school, and outside of a few exhilarating months when the trading card game was at peak popularity, my interest/obsession was generally just dismissed or laughed at,but when the app came out in mid-July, it just instantly exploded and became a genuine point of conversation among all sorts of people.

I decided to start taking daily bike rides to play Pokémon (and also to exercise, of course) and each time I ran into multiple people who were all playing as well. I saw lanky nerdlings who didn’t seem unlike myself walking around outside and getting some fresh air. I saw random dudebros from my high school who I thought I’d never see again (a possibility that didn’t bother me) and was able to have conversations with them about something we had in common for the first time ever. I’d even see married couples walking kids or dogs, all the while obviously looking at their phones every few seconds and not fooling me whatsoever. Any sort of game that is able to bring together so many drastically different groups of people and give them something to excitedly chat about is a hit in my book.

So obviously Pokémon Go is a fun distraction—I always have a quality time hunting for rare Pokémon around my dorm (and then being disappointed when there is inevitably nothing) and I have gone on walks back at home to places I did not even realize existed just for the sake of playing. It was enough of a diversion to make me fail to realize that Pokémon Go is not really… an actual video game.

One of the main draws to the actual Pokémon games is the battling, and in Go’s case “battling” is mostly relegated to “furiously tapping and sliding on one’s screen for about a minute in hopes that you’ll somehow pull out a victory.” Obviously, due to it being a free-to-play mobile game, there’s not going to be an incredibly refined battle system at play, so I can understand. However, once you’ve participated in a few of these battles and caught all the Pokémon you’ve been looking for, the fatigue becomes real. I have not personally been affected by this because I am usually entertained by very simple, low-effort things, but it might provide some explanation for why. There is just not all that much to do.

Then there is the issue of the developers, Niantic, and how they have made some… questionable decisions regarding game features since the app’s launch. As someone who got really into the game for a while, I was a little annoyed, but they are a tiny company whose app ended up taking off at a much bigger rate than they could’ve imagined. Their customer service may be subpar and they may have removed the tracking system that allowed players to actually go hunt for specific Pokémon, but fans really need to stop being so entitled. Niantic does seem to be putting forth somewhat of an effort at this point, as minuscule as it may be, so I applaud them for that. Baby steps.

Overall, if you are a Pokémon Go fan, you need to be proud of that. It’s still cool, I promise, and as long as more features are being slowly rolled out over the next few months, it will remain cool. Or maybe it’ll die off while I continue to walk around with it on in my pocket, blissfully unaware of the fact that nobody cares anymore. Regardless of how it is viewed now, it got millions and millions of people around the world to get outside, talk to each other, and have a good time, and that’s something special.

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