It’s been responsible for people walking off cliffs, stepping into ponds and (much more romantically) running into each others’ arms. It’s helped people quit their jobs, cope with cancer and catch murder suspects…as well as Lickitungs, Drowzees, Oddishes and – our favourite – Vulpixes.
In case you’ve been hiding in a Pokéball for the past fortnight, we’re talking about Pokémon Go. Niantec's real world gaming platform for Android and iOS allows Pokémon Hunters to take part in their own mini adventures, catching as many Pokemon as they can, stopping at designated Pokéstops or Pokégyms to pick up supplies or battle it out for prestige.
It’s broken servers and stock market records (Nintendo’s shares sky rocketed 56% in the week of its worldwide release).
But why has Pokémon Go garnered so much attention from so wide an audience in such a short amount of time? Is it because of the ease of play, the free entry point, the element of healthy competition or the inter-generational appeal that plays on both nostalgia and novelty? Or simply because it inverts the much maligned stereotype of insular, in-house gaming by encouraging players to venture out into the big wide world (and simultaneously smash their fitbit stats)? While it may be all of the above, we like to think it’s giving people something more fundamental: a much needed power up of positivity.
With all of its tragedies, deaths and divisive politics, 2016 has been a hotbed of negativity. And in this drought of good news, Pokémon Go has given the world the respite it’s been crying out for. We know it’s not perfect with the safety concerns surrounding it, but let’s practice what we preach and focus on the positives: at last we have something that unites not divides, that can be celebrated not condemned, that is joyful not disheartening. Pokémon Go may be silly and trivial in the wider scheme of things but when everything else is so serious - when we can’t see eye-to-eye on the big things - this small, welcome distraction is something we can all finally agree on.
And that’s why Pokémon Go has captured the world’s hearts and imaginations, why it’s become such a worldwide phenomenon (again), and why we’re nipping off to catch an Eevee.