There are invisible Pokemon all over town.

By: 
Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

The new app, Pokemon Go, tried its very best to break the internet over the weekend. This game is one of those things that makes me seriously consider upgrading my phone, because my cheap device can’t run the app. (So fellow nerds, don’t excommunicate me if I get the details wrong.)

The cartoon Pokemon was one of the major reasons for the Anime craze that caught on n the 90s. If you’re an older parent, you’re probably rubbing your temples and fighting down a headache from the reminder. The cartoon wasn’t something I’d call high art, but it had the right things going for it to appeal to kids, and it was harmless enough after they pulled the flashing colors episode that caused a few seizures in Japan.

The cartoon was sort of a flash in the pan. It still exists but never matched the wild popularity it started with. But Pokemon’s enduring legacy has always been with the games. The intangible reward that players feel by adding new Pokemon to their collections (Gotta catch ‘em all) makes these games truly addictive, same with the card collections, and creators feed these addictions by constantly creating more Pokemon. Creators also add rare Pokemon, which is a thrill to players when they get these.

Now with Pokemon Go, creators have taken it a step forward and are practically testing the boarders of reality by creating an app that makes you see Pokemon in the “real world” through your smartphone. People on Facebook post screen captures from the game of Pokemon running around in their homes, in the bushes outside, and one player I saw got a picture of an Alakazam sitting on a toilet. If you don’t have the app, a Squirtle might be sitting on your lap right now and you wouldn’t even know it.

It seems to be the main servers that decide on the locations of the Pokemon, so you might see several people running around the park trying to catch the same Charmander. The game is insanely popular, getting geeks and nerds across the country out of their homes to chase Pokemon in the heat and blogs and news outlets are already commenting on the game’s affect on society. The most obvious benefit is exercise. I’ve never seen so many nerds out and walking around, except at an Anime convention.

There are drawbacks. It seems the game designers try to keep the big Pokemon “clusters” in public areas, such as churches and stores. But they can make mistakes and one person had to contend with all of the neighborhood fans running around in his yard trying to catch them. There’s been speculation about how people might react when they don’t know what that guy in the park is doing, running around with his cellphone and chasing something that other people can’t see. One group of criminals even exploited the game’s mechanics, using items in the game to summon Pokemon to their location, and then robbed the players who came looking for them. Departments have tried to remind people to take their eyes off of their phones when crossing the streets and people are chasing Pokemon into places where they wouldn’t ordinarily wander. One teenager found a dead body while chasing a Pokemon; you’ve probably seen that on the news. This makes me wonder: did she run away and call the cops? Or did she first catch that Pokemon, and then run away and call the cops?

As big as it is now, Pokemon Go is only going to get bigger. Everything I mentioned in that last paragraph happened over last weekend (before July 11, 2016) when the creators could barely even keep the servers up. Once they strengthen the servers to cope with the massive amount of players logging in, there are going to be Pokemon gyms in every town in the country. And just imagine when this augmented reality format starts to really catch on. We’ll start seeing people wearing Google Glasses seeing these things 24/7 and chasing pink mice with puffy tails.

It happened so slow that we barely even noticed, but we are living in the future. And the future is adorable.

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