You know, this is a weird article for me to write, as I stopped playing Pokemon Go actively around a year ago. I kept it installed for all this time, before I finally uninstalled it a few weeks back. However, when Jake asked me to go on out for a long walk with him, to just walk with him to catch Pokemon, I figured it’d be an interesting day out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve walked around the centre of Bristol many times before, but I figured there’d be a buzz about the area, especially since the game was so popular upon release. How much of that magic was retained? How much of that sense of community is even still there? As we walked, I found out some shockingly fun truths about the Pokemon Go spirit in 2018.
I mentioned right at the start of the article that I don’t play any more; this was a pretty simple decision by me, simply because I wasn’t getting the Pokemon spirit that I personally wanted out of it. I wanted to be able to travel, catch all the Pokemon and not have to worry about raids and gyms and the likes. However, I’ve told Jake many times that the actual concept of Pokemon Go is still something I adore. To be able to step out of your home, to get some fresh air and a nice walk – all the while catching Pokemon to add to your collection. All in all, the idea behind the game is still intriguing, but I personally fell out of love with it. With this to the side then, let me explain why I decided to go along for the walk, even though I knew I’d be an odd one out.
Jake has recently been getting more into Pokemon Go, joining raid groups and more. The activity on the Facebook pages of these groups are simply staggering! Jake has started to go out to these groups from time to time and comes back, sometimes with a rare Pokemon, such as Lugia, or perhaps he’ll catch an Absol, or a “Battle with the best of them” Gengar. It’s quite funny listening to it all, as I had played it for so long, it felt odd being the outsider looking in.
When we got to Castle Park in the centre of Bristol, however, I at first was shocked. There weren’t many people. I mean, there was probably a good 30-40 people, which is great, but it wasn’t anything extraordinary, especially for Castle Park. But as we walked around, people started to show up and the park was soon enough absolutely flooded with people. It easily could have reached 200+ people, all walking around to find Bulbasaurs, shiny or otherwise. This was when Jake told me he was really looking forward to getting himself a ‘Golden Greenasaur’ instead of a ‘Shiny Venusaur’ – and so the event was a great laugh.
So what did I learn about the Pokemon Go spirit in 2018? That the game is still very much alive, thriving and actually it may be better than ever for those who want a good reason to go out of their house. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road, like the game tells you – but most importantly of all – use the game as an opportunity to meet some new people, or indeed to bump into your friends and family as you walk around. When you consider how small Castle Park truly is, it was kind of incredible seeing such a high footfall of people trying to catch those Bulbasaurs… And even better was seeing the dillemma some people had when trying to figure out if they should blend one of their brand new shiny Bulbasaur.
If I were Niantic, I’d capitalise on the success of these events far more often. For three hours, once every month, in a similar vein to the Dratini event last month, just choose a Pokemon to make it the “star Pokemon” of the month and go with it. Get people out there, get them chatting and please just do some more interesting raids. Even though Jake loved getting his shiny Venusaur in the end (along with a shiny Ivysaur and about 7 shiny Bulbasaur), the best part was going for the last walk when we found an Absol raid. Because the community day had just finished, there were plenty of people around. This is how you can bring the community to the game; but for now, the groups that have popped up to go around doing raids is simply awesome.