Yesterday, we succumbed. While on a long weekend, visiting Milwaukee for Summerfest, we both downloaded the Pokemon Go app.
Just a little background about me and Pokemon, I’ve never once played. Not the card game, not the computer game, the cartoon, zip. I worked at Barnes and Noble when the cards were in their hay day & In my mind, I was always “too old”, “too cool” or just too indifferent to bother learning to play.
That has all changed.
I am much older, much cooler and found myself very intrigued by all of the chatter amongst my friends about the game.
First thing yesterday morning, we lay in bed, dreading getting up and facing the world after staying out past our bedtimes two nights in a row, and we both started to play.
One of the first things we noticed and found odd was, there was no need to connect with one another on the game. We tried to form a team, we stood next to each other trying to see one another on the map, we tried to beat each other to the Pokemon in the room.
That night, as we played all the way in from the parking lot and into the fest grounds. When we stopped for dinner, the first conversation happened.
We both say at the table with our apps open discussing our games (I had just gotten to level 5, thank you very much!) when we heard someone behind us ask the couple a table over.. “Oh! What level are you on?”. I turned around and held up my phone. “So, we’re not the only ones who came to Summerfest for Pokemoning?” The five of us chatted for a little bit about our levels and what teams we should join and then we all moved on.
We discovered pretty quickly, you can form Pokedar pretty quickly, especially in a big crowd. It’s similar to seeing the faces people make when using Snapchat face filters.You would see someone being led around by the phone then suddenly stopping, aiming and flinging those balls. Once you see that, you hurry to open your app and go over to stand by them and catch your prey. You nod and smile and maybe talk about what you just got and your teams.
When we settled into the massive crowd to watch Death Cab For Cutie, we overhead some people chatting behind us and guess what the topic was? Yep. Pokemon GO.
As the night for on and we got closer to the show starting, we resituated where folks were standing and I proceeded to chat Pokemon with one of my new festival besties (neither of us being super excited for the show).
We talked about the lack of a social layer and whether or not it was intentional. Did Nintendo set out to create a mobile game that not only, got us nerds out of the house, but interacting with other people?! He talked about a similar game called Ingress, that had the social later so we know the technology is out there.
It can’t have been an oversight on Nintendo’s behalf, social on a mobile app is not something you forget about. So, it’s down to us to desire for ourselves what the reasons behind the decision was for. I like to think that it was with intention to draw people out and interact with one another while getting out and exploring the world.
My memories of this year’s Summerfest will be two things: The Whiskey of the Damned CD launch party, and all the fun PokePeople I’ve gotten to meet.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Bellsprout over in the corner. I’ve got to go.
— Carrie Keenan (@CarrieJKeenan) July 10, 2016