One year and two days ago, Pokemon Go reinvented the mobile gaming landscape and reignited a craze that has gone on for over two decades. But in the wake of early crashes and frenzied, frustrated players, how far has the game come, and how much further must it go not only to satisfy its fans but also to survive?
In this retrospective, we will confront the major problems still blighting players and lay forth some suggestions for how Nintendo and Niantic can overcame these ails. In particular, we will focus on three themes: player engagement through playing together, the updated Gym system and the game’s multiple currencies, and the inequality perpetuated by the game mechanics themselves.
I have a confession to make: I didn’t study for my algebraic topology midterm because I couldn’t stop playing Pokemon.
The truth is, for the last eighteen years (and I’m turning 27, so that’s two-thirds of my life), Pokemon has been one of the few constants from year to year: Pokemon was there when I played with my friends in Hebrew school; Pokemon was there when my parents my separated and I went back and forth between my parents houses while my mom was at school; and Pokemon was there when I began college myself and needed something, or anything, to pass the time when I wasn’t studying.
And Pokemon was also there when I should’ve been studying last week. In fact, Pokemon–in its many iterations–has been keeping me from homework for a long time.
Sometimes we’ve got a weight on our shoulders, keeping us down and preventing us from moving forward, and sometimes it’s more of a weight in our pockets–we feel it, and it’s not going anywhere, but we’ve got to carry it forward until we’re able to let it go.
Letting go isn’t always an option in our control. Right now the monstrous weight in my pocket is the wait to marry the man I love, just to see him again: we’re a binational couple going through the immigration process, and even though this burden grows heavier every day, we can do nothing to set it down any sooner–it’s in the hands of someone else.
So we do what we can to pass the time. This is how I’ve carried these pocket monsters.
Or, the Brief If Long-Awaited Return of Pokemon Wednesday
One of my earliest memories is playing the NES in our living room or watching as my siblings make Mario run through worlds and worlds of varying difficulty, envious of how much better they were than I was. I remember, when we lived in upstate New York, getting the hand-me-down NES games from a neighbor and I remember being at friends’ houses and watching them in awe on the Genesis and SNES.
Then I remember my grandparents coming up to North Carolina near my tenth birthday, but before I can get to this, let me take a step back. I remember, in religious school, watching the older children crowding around their Game Boys, playing this awesome new game called Pokemon. It blew my mind away, how fun it looked! And then my best friend got the game and I wanted that game.