In case you’ve been living in the sewers for the past few weeks: Pokémon Go has taken the world by storm, with Millennials leading the charge. The latest Pokémon release is an augmented-reality game that players can install on their phones—for free. Nineties kids are in heaven right now. Despite their despairing debt and lack of money, they can relive the glory days of sitting on their living room floors, watching the very first Pokémon series while belting the opening song, without worry for their wallets. Though it might have already hit peak popularity, Pokémon Go has become more than a game—it’s a community that even social media can’t mimic.
The game combines our phones’ cameras and GPS capabilities to bring users on a virtual-yet-in-real-life Pokémon hunt. Although young Millennials may reap the most nostalgia from playing the game, other generations have joined in on the fun too. The game has built generational bridges, one could say (wink, wink). A quick walk around the neighborhood, and you’ll see a Gen Xer with their 7 year old virtually catching Pokémon. Head to the park, grocery store, or coffee shop and you’ll see parents and grandparents with their children and grandchildren, each of them monitoring the area for an elusive Pikachu or Clefairy. Millennials are bringing groups of friends to socialize and catch Pokémon (and gasp! even make new friends), and older generations are eager to ask them for quick tips on how to play. Just last week, I went to the lake with some friends to catch Pokémon, and a 60-some-year-old woman approached us. We happily chatted for a few minutes about our experiences and answered her questions before parting ways.
In this way, Pokémon Go has become a social experiment of sorts. People who would otherwise quietly play games in the comfort of their own homes are heading to local hotspots and interacting with fellow “trainers.” Some people are making neighborhood acquaintances for the first time. And the conversations don’t stop at the in-game experiences and strategies: fans are talking about it’s wildfire contagion, public reception of the game, Nintendo stocks, and, maybe the best part, reminiscing about the good ol’ days. Millennials are excited to bond with peers and those from other generations about something they’ve loved since they were little.
What’s more, this kind of advance in technology is the type that shapes the technological expectations of younger generations. It contributes to Millennials’ and Gen Edgers’ expectation that technology should be constantly evolving and improving, and it may play a role in shaping the future of gaming that Gen Edgers expect. The question now becomes, who will create Harry Potter Go?