Anyone who grew up through the millennium knows about Pokemon, for the most part. I'm sure we can all recognize a pikachu at the very least. I can’t remember a moment of my childhood that didn’t include some type of Pokemon-related thing in it. From the show and the video games, to the millions of toys and the collection of cards, Pokemon was EVERYTHING to my generation. Even as I grew older I never felt ashamed to say that this was a big part of my childhood.
Fast forward to my early 20s and the beginning of something amazing. In 2016, an American software development company called Niantic, Inc. decided to create the augmented reality game, Pokemon Go. We grew up with the fantasy of finding and catching pokemon of our own, and the app promised us just that. We could walk to our local park, turn on the ssPokemon Go camera, and find pokemon that were invisible to the naked eye. The idea was obviously appealing, but could it really work? Could this really live up to all of our childhood memories? We needed to find out. Now it wasn’t exactly Pokemon red or any of the iconic Gameboy games we were used to, but it was interesting, at least for a little while. Finding “live” pokemon in the wild was thrilling at first, and I hadn’t seen so many people voluntarily walking around outside since the 90s.
After some time went by, just catching them started to lose its excitement, and the Pokemon thrill seemed to die again. Things needed to change, evolve if you will. Niantic knew they needed to keep the public interested with new challenges and events. After going through a long lull in activity, we were finally given the one thing we were all waiting for, the opportunity to battle. It wasn’t perfect but it was new and exciting. Over the next few months we were introduced to tons of other new exciting aspects of the game. New generations of Pokemon were added, which helped connect older generation Pokemon fans with the younger fans. They introduced raids, where large groups of trainers could come together to battle and capture a rare type of Pokemon. Even better, we were now given the chance to send gifts in order to build friendships, battle and trade with others. Also community days began, where everyone is given the chance to catch a certain Pokemon more often than usual, as well as special editions of the same type. These new additions to the game were sure to keep players interested for quite some time.
To many, Pokemon still seems like a silly game for children. But what they don’t see is how this game has been able to bring so many people together. We are able to meet people from different towns, different states or countries even, just to connect over this silly game. Most of all, it has helped to sort of bridge the gap between older generation millennials who have loved Pokemon since it began, and the younger generation Z, who are just now getting more involved with it. On community days it isn't unusual to see senior citizens also getting involved in the events. To me and many others, it is a hobby, a passion, and a community.
CARLI QUINN moved to Ottawa in 2017 from Long Island, NY. She is the mother of two whose passions include writing, roller derby and a great slice of pizza. She can be reached by emailing email@example.com.