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Just What The Hell Is Pokémon Go?

By Emily Chambers | Web Culture | July 11, 2016 | Comments ()


I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but we’re in the middle of a mid-90s revival. Fuller House, a weirdly sexy Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and now a new smartphone version of Pokémon. Pokémon, as you might remember, was a card game and cartoon from the late 90s about a young boy hunting and eating a large number of weird animals after putting them through a rigorous pre-death training montage. His goal in life was to “catch them all.” So here’s the thing: what the fuck is Pokémon Go?

Let’s start with the basics:

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices.

Uh-huh. Makes perfect sense, and I know all of those words.

What that all basically means is that people are still trying to catch all the various Pokémon, only now instead of cards which can be damaged or lost, the Pokémon are all found and live in your phone. You scan your phone around the room/street/late-night-munchie-seller you’re at, and try to swipe the Pokémon into your possession. After that, you’re able to train and fight them with other Pokémon. I’m still unsure as to when the eating comes into play in this version.

But why would this matter at all to you? A few reasons.

1) It might have just made you rich.
That’s provided you own any Nintendo stock. If you do, you just saw the price rise by 25 percent, the highest price since 1983. Prices have increased about $50 per share since Thursday.

2) People are the worst.
You know what’s the best thing to do with a highly successful and popular phone app? Rob people. At least that’s what four teens in Missouri thought would be a good idea. And there’s been some other weird shit. Some guy’s house accidentally being turned into a Pokémon gym causing a bunch of people to just hang out on his lawn. Some teenager finding a goddamn body. I suppose you could argue that discovering the missing person means his family will have closure which is a good thing, but “dead bodies” still aren’t something I’d put in the win column.

3) People are also the best.
As a cynic, it’s hard for me to get pumped about something that seems so blatantly silly, but Pokémon Go might be improving some people’s mental health. Between the getting out of the house, the interacting with other players, and the actual physical exercise, users are reporting on social media that it’s been a huge help to their depression, anxiety, etc. That and some geniuses have found a way to use the game to troll the Westboro Baptist Church.

So alright, Pokémon Go. I’ll play your weird hunting game. But if anyone expects me to eat a Pikachu, I’m out.

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