Skip to main content

Pokémon GO

It's been ten days since my last post now. Naturally, that means my parents have been pestering me to warm up my typing fingers and put out a new blog post. Firstly, we've crossed 20,000 views on the blog! Yaaaay! A huge thank you to everyone who read and shared the blog. Anyway, on to the blog.

A few weeks ago, a once-famous, now largely forgotten company called Nintendo came out with a game called Pokemon GO. It teamed up with Niantic, a company which made a huge splash a few years ago with an augmented reality game called Ingress. Pokemon, for all you poor, deprived folk who never played on a GameBoy Advanced or DS, is a game where you capture various creatures, train them into terrifying monsters and use them to beat other creatures up until they faint. No, it didn't make me violent! And I'll punch you until you pass out if you say it did!

Since 1996, Nintendo has been picking up the same series and rehashing it over and over, adding new pokemon and new rivals. The mechanics of the game haven't changed very much, though, and what was a pretty big deal back in 1996 had pretty much collapsed. After all, however many cartoon series, comic books, card games, movies and video games you may put out, there's only so much satisfaction you can gain from sitting inside and having your pokemon repeatedly attack other pokemon. By 2014, when the last set of games came out, people were pretty much sick of Nintendo flogging the same dead horse, and by most accounts, Pokemon, along with Nintendo itself, were on their way out.

Earlier this month, though, Pokemon GO came out and changed all of that. While Nintendo probably didn't write a huge amount of the code behind the game, it's still deeply involved with the Pokemon franchise on account of it owns it. When Pokemon GO came out, Nintendo was a dying company. Since its release, Nintendo's market value has gone up by over $7 billion. The app has topped Apple's free app list, unseating giants like Snapchat, Instagram and Tinder. 

Pokemon GO uses the data from Niantic's old game, Ingress - another game where you had to move around in real life to complete objectives in the game. It uses your location and tells you what pokemon are nearby. If you get close enough to a pokemon, you can attempt to catch it. And here's the really cool part - the game will use your phone's camera and show you the pokemon on the ground in front of you! You also have to walk to get to gyms, where you can train your pokemon, and to pokestops, where you get items that you can use to catch and battle pokemon.

I think a large part of Pokemon GO's appeal is its nostalgia value. A lot of people grew up playing one generation or the other of the pokemon games. Many people, myself included, may hypothetically play the games illegally on emulators on their PCs. Pokemon GO came out and took a great many people under thirty back to their childhood days in a way they probably didn't think was possible. After all, they couldn't exactly shell out the money to buy a 3DS just to play Pokemon Alpha Omega, could they?

Another big thing Pokemon GO has going for it (see what I did there?) is that the hardware it runs on is so much more accessible. In general, games which are released on both PC and consoles sell more copies on the PC than on consoles. Largely, that's because a lot of teenagers can't really afford consoles, but everyone has a PC. The same goes for Pokemon GO - very few people have 3DSes, but a great many people have a smartphone. Pokemon GO's success shows just how well Nintendo could do if they brought some of their other franchises to more generic platforms.

The game has also received a lot of flak since its release because people are looking at their smartphones instead of the road while walking or driving. People have been run over and involved in serious accidents because they were playing Pokemon GO. They've also been going into places like police stations just because they found a rare pokemon hiding inside. While those are major problems, people do need to concentrate on where they are in the real world more than where they are in a video game. Letting people who can't look both ways before crossing the street play pokemon is equivalent to giving a two-year-old a handgun.

There have also been a lot of upsides to the game. People who haven't been out and about in several years are now going out into the wide world - if only to catch pokemon - and getting healthier because they're being forced to walk. It's also combating issues like social anxiety, because people are going out and finding other people who are playing the game, people who just want to hang out and play together.

All in all, I reckon Pokemon GO's both a gift and a curse. It's a fantastic game, and it's doing no end of good for a lot of people. There are also people who are getting into trouble because of it, but I think that's the way it is with any invention - there's the good and there's the bad. Either way, the technology is fantastic, and I think it's a great idea overall. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I saw a squirtle down the road, and I really want to go and catch it.


Popular posts from this blog

No Good Place To Do Mutra Visarjan In This Country...

At least, that's what Chatur Ramalingam seems to think. However, many of our fellow Indians seem to disagree with him. According to them, there are nothing BUT places to do mutra visarjan (for all you poor, masochistic folks - ah, I mean, non-movie-going folks - out there, mutra visarjan means urine expulsion). In case you haven't guessed already, we're going to be talking about one of India's most widely criticized and even more widely practiced issues - public urination.

I'm not exactly saying that it's our people's fault - I mean, come on, we have so much urine-related cultural history! Just in the past 50 years, we've had people who've used their urine for everything from watering plants to drinking it (I believe that some people also flush it down their toilets. How wasteful of them). Besides all the historical precedents, however, we also have some more practical reasons for peeing wherever and whenever we feel like.

If you've ever seen a …

Exam Fever

As anyone currently in the twelfth will tell you, with varying levels of dismay, the final exams are right around the corner. Parents everywhere are seizing their children's phones and taking time off from work. Panicked screaming ensues at intervals.

I don't believe there's a person on the planet who genuinely enjoys exam season. Actually, I take that back - there's no one in India who enjoys exam season. Partially, I think this is our own fault. Exams are the most important things in an Indian student's life, so parents seem bent on bottling up all the worry and concern they have about their kid's education and allowing it to spew forth in a torrent of "No more video games!" and "Delete WhatsApp!" commands during the two months surrounding the exams. Small wonder, then, that at 17, I believe the purpose of exams is to seasonally blot the sunshine from otherwise happy lives.

This whole exam fever thing does have some upsides. Okay, one - it…

Riding Away

A couple of weeks ago, I undertook a gargantuan task: I decided to teach my mother to ride a bicycle. Somehow, during her more youthful years, she never found time to pick up that particular skill, and now she is to rectify this deficiency.

My own bicycle is sized for adult males and as such, it's a little big for Mom. In order to enable her to reach the pedals, I walked down to the nearest stand and brought her a smaller bicycle., for those of you who don't know, is a company run by Zoomcar which lets you rent bicycles for a couple of rupees an hour. It's great, because it spared me having to go around the neighbourhood in search of a bicycle that Mom could use.

Once I brought the bicycle home, the real tribulations began - for Mom, that is. I simply stood on the side of the road and took videos of her travails to contribute to the family albums. I don't know how many of you recall the experience of your first bicycle ride. I remember mine with real c…