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Why is Pokémon so significant?

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Nowadays, the world seems to be divided into three groups: those who are obsessed with Pokémon Go, those who can’t stand Pokémon Go and those who don’t know what on Earth Pokémon Go is. Although I sometimes I was in the latter stage of blissful ignorance, it’s impossible to deny the fact that Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm. But why?

According to recent survey results , Pokémon Go is now the biggest mobile game in US history. The survey showed that within three days of its release Pokémon Go had more users than global social giant Twitter. It shot into the top spot of the App Store charts, netting millions of dollars of revenue every day day for its publisher, Niantic.

If you do come into the category of not knowing what we are talking about, here are three quick pointers:

  1. Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game played on smartphones using your GPS.
  2. You play by walking around the real world catching little virtual monsters and training them to fight each other.
  3. Pokémon Go is available on the App Store or Google Play. It's free but there are things to buy once you're in the game.

But just what is it about the game that makes it so popular, when the headlines are full of criticism? Most will have heard stories of people being mugged whilst walking along with their iPhones on display. Someone managed to walk into a moving car, plenty of people have fallen over and others were rescued from ramshackle boats whilst trying to find Pikachu in the middle of a very large sea. Recently, hundreds of people descended on a quiet park in the name of Pokémon, and there are some very real concerns by child protection and safety officials about shady characters lurking in known Pokémon locations.

Downsides aside, one of the reasons why Pokémon is so significant to a young generation is the mystifying mix of virtual and actual reality that the game brings. Looking at the screen from Pokémon Go is like looking into a new world which is just like yours but ever so slightly better. It’s almost like capturing your own reality show from the camera operator’s perspective – yet it’s capturing a non-reality version of your own life. It’s unique. It’s fun. And it’s imaginative.

Perhaps another reason for its popularity is that it is a game open to most people – all you really need is a smart phone as it’s not a game reliant on skill. It allows socially awkward teenagers to get out and about whilst feeling the security of being in their own little world, yet it lets others bond over their game successes and failures. Moreover, it modernises a creation that was popular in the 90s – reviving it for a new generation yet in a far cooler and more exciting way than we ever experienced. Perhaps it’s even the looks of bemused wonder that the game elicits from that category of people who know nothing about it.

Love it, hate it or simply ignore it – it’s entirely up to you. But I’m sorry to say this is the future. The big tech companies are investing widely in virtual reality, so this is just the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a huge change in the way we interact with computers, the internet and one another. Let’s just hope the future won’t necessarily involve a ‘Pokeball’ – I’m not entirely sure what one of those is but it does sound a little bit painful.

What do you think? Do you love Pokémon Go, or can you not understand what all the fuss is about? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and let us know! Plus, don’t forget to have your say and earn money in your spare time in our latest paid surveys at Opinion Outpost UK.

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