Pokemon Go, phenomenon still going strong

Pandemic be Damned; Pokemon Go Players as Enthusiastic as Ever

2016 was a much simpler time. In sports, teams like the Chicago Cubs won their first title since 1908 and came within a year of Back to the Future Part 2’s prediction coming to fruition, we were gearing up for an incredible election that would shape the nation for the next four years, and a popular game that had been around for 20 years made its way onto smartphone platforms.

You would be hard-pressed to go to what was usually only a marginally busy place like Downtown Visalia or certain parks and not see small groups of people staring at their phones while walking everywhere, laughing and having a good time while getting some exercise. Many people would walk by and ask why there were large crowds of people walking around in the middle of the day when there were no important city events or parades going on. The answer was simple; “Oh we’re just playing a new augmented reality game called Pokemon Go.”

Even if they were not completely versed in what a “pokemon” was, most people still had memories of the Pokemon craze that had swept the world in the 1990s and were shocked to find people still religiously played the game all of these years later. They no doubt were able to recall when either they or their children begged their parents to go to the store and grab some Pokemon cards when a new release came out, hence why a giant chunk of the Pokemon Go playing community happens to be Millennials and people born right around the time Pokemon hit a fever pitch in North America and became a driving force in introducing Japanese pop culture to the rest of the world.

Players could join up with each other and “raid” pokemon gyms in groups and catch certain kinds of these fictional animals that would otherwise not be catchable if you were doing it alone. This led to people becoming friends for the first time as they shared common goals and interests when it came to the game. Even today in 2021, five years after the beginning launch of the game, people still play religiously and prove it was not only a passing fad.

Even college students take time out of their busy schedules to play the game which makes it helpful that there are certain gyms and pokemon that appear on our very own College of the Sequoias campus. “Pokemon Go has always been a fun way to get out and meet new people. I have been playing console games since I was little and the smartphone games allow me to play in the “real world,”” said Giants sophomore Josh on Saturday afternoon. The game’s augmented reality feature provides real-world maps that allow you to track pokemon down at precise locations such as the bell clock tower downtown and even the Visalia Times-Delta building.

Josh’s friend, freshman Andrew acknowledged why Pokemon Go is still a hit even during these troubling times saying, “Pokemon Go is a way we can cope with all of the uncertainty around us and it kind of gives us the nostalgia of being back in 2016 when things made more sense.” Times certainly have changed, for most of us in the worst way, and a game like this where you can feel comfortable and eager to take that next step and reach that next level surely is a huge help in an otherwise dreary landscape.