I am the last person to comment on the mania surrounding a Nintendo game, but the immediate popularity of Pokemon Go is too immense to ignore.
And too interesting to leave alone, too.
Reports are that the game has been downloaded more than a million times since its release just last week and Nintendo’s stock has jumped 25%.
What’s going on here? Is this just a fad or something larger?
The trick of Pokemon Go is that it uses augmented reality in which players use their phones to find Pokemon characters in real places, like churches, malls and just down the street from where you are standing. People are walking around their cities with their phones out, looking for these characters, capturing them and using them to fight battles with others who have captured other characters.
My Twitter feed was swarmed by this craze over the weekend with posts from celebrities, reporters and authors. You know, intelligent and thinking adults. Pokemon, which I’ve always thought was just a kids’ card game with silly looking characters, has taken quick root with a larger demographic with Pokemon Go.
Why Pokemon Go is so popular
To understand why people have flocked to this game, you have to understand how preference works. We buy the things that define us in an aspirational manner, even if we are not aware of it. (Most of the time we are not.) I didn’t buy a sports car because I thought it made me look cool. I did it because I wanted to be cool.
The brands we most covet align themselves with such identifications. The Nike wearer is one who wants to “Just Do It,” win without the hassle that usually clutters our life.
Pokemon Go has tapped into a very interesting desire – The yearning to make your current world important. The game is a fantasy that your everyday life and everyday places are important and part of a larger universe.
Intellectually, we can all make the argument that our current surroundings fit that definition. But Pokemon Go makes it real. Well, as real as an app on your phone can make it real.
Of course, you may be seeing people walking down the street, looking at their phones and bumping into things. There have already been reports of injuries as well as users finding a dead body and others luring robbery victims. As sad as those things are, those events increase the importance of this augmented reality.
I haven’t downloaded this app yet and doubt that I will. (Famous last words.) But the appeal of it lies in a self-identification of many – and that’s why so many people are hooked.