Confessions of a Pokémon Nerd
Back in July of 2016 when Pokémon Go was first released, I and all my workmates jumped in on the craze. We created our avatars, learned the ins and out and secrets of how to get points, and proudly showed off a freshly captured Pokémon to the others if we were the first one to find it.
Being in advertising and web commerce, I also told friends and clients that I played because of the future marketing aspects. Imagine the business boost if your store became a Pokestop, or if your branded T-shirt was an option for avatars. It didn’t happen, but the potential was there.
Then all at once the game faded in popularity. There were glitches and it seemed to take forever to load on our phones. Plus, there was “talk” after a couple of feverish months of momentum that Pokémon wasn’t cool anymore. It was a fad that had run its course. Near the beginning of 2017, after six months of spinning, throwing, hatching, and evolving, we all decided to set aside Pokémon.
But the seeds had been planted. I left the APP on my phone. For some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to toss it into the trash.
It was almost a full year later, a Sunday afternoon in mid-January of 2018, wind whipping the snow and below zero wind chills outside, in a moment of nostalgia, that I tapped the APP again. Wow! I had to refamiliarize myself with the game. Things had changed. Now trainers could have friends all around the world and send them gifts. There were Field research and Special research projects. There were battles and trades. Best of all, there were many, many new Pokémon and colorful variations of old Pokémon.
It was fun. It all worked fast and smooth. I got hooked. I became friends with players in Poland, Germany, Australia, the U.K. and across the U.S. I increased my skill level. And all the while I told no one. I decided it would be my secret, guilty pleasure.
Then, after nine months of clandestine playing, Randy came to work one day and said that some of his friends were playing Pokémon. He had the same experience I had had months earlier – he found that the glitches were gone, the game ran fast, and there was a lot of new, fun stuff.
I didn’t comment at first. It was the third or fourth time he mentioned it that I couldn’t hold back any longer. I confessed. I told the truth about all those times I had taken a walk over lunch – it wasn’t for exercise, it was to catch Pokémon. I told the truth about those times I had been a few minutes late for work – it wasn’t because of traffic, it was to visit a Pokéstop.
After that, our fall back into the world of Pokémon was quick. In no time at all we were exchanging gifts, sharing tips, and showing off new catches. How hooked are we? Rather than go out for a company lunch before Christmas, we all got into a car and spent the time driving around DeKalb looking for Pokémon and raiding gyms.
It’s fun. Yet just in case you still think Pokémon is a kids’ game and not cool, I only continue to play because of the future marketing aspects.