In the days since Pokemon Go was released, I’ve seen many tweets spewing vitriol and outrage at game players. Listen, I get it. Pop culture phenomenon can be tricky to navigate and often, it’s not the “thing” you’re upset with, but how people choose to use it. This is precisely how I feel about religion and strollers. Neither are inherently bad, but its users make questionable decisions.
But to immediately dismiss Pokemon Go is to deny the culmination of many things. Allow me to explain.
When I worked at a social media agency, the concept of “augmented reality” was in its infancy. So many of my coworkers were obsessed with getting a client to use the technology to do something cool & innovative. Augmented reality (AR for short) is about blending the digital world on your device with the real world that’s right in front of you. Sure, there have been games since my agency days that have been successful, but nothing has broken through in the way that Pokemon Go has. For me, seeing this game take over our daily lives is a point of personal pride, even if we were seven or so years ahead of the curve.
The best part of Pokemon Go is that I can overlay my gaming interests with my real life interests – aka catching Rattata on the Anastasia Beverly Hills display in Sephora. While I’ve never been the first to jump on gaming trends (don’t even get me started at how bad I am at Call of Duty), the games I love have stuck with me. I’ll never forget the day my cousin brought over Doom & Duke Nukem for me to play on my very first computer. The almanac that came with my copy of Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego also doubled as a destination guide when I played travel agent. I still lose hours playing Minecraft & The Sims when I need to unplug from social media.
Michelle Obama memes aside, I love that Pokemon Go encourages me to get out into the city, rethinking my commute to a beauty event or my route to a client’s office. The mundane world is suddenly brand new, with Pokestops at landmarks I didn’t even realize existed right next to my pharmacy. Connecting with game players at high-profile locations reminds me of the tribe connection I felt when the iPod was first released. The sense of belonging that came from seeing someone else walking down the street with white headphones is the same giddiness I feel when I see someone on my subway platform tossing Pokeballs.
Plus, Pokemon Go is ripe for a fashion collaboration. Shoutout to @kiddotrue for showing me Pokexfashion, a dormant Tumblr dedicated to fusing fashion editorials with Pokemon characters. TooFaced was the first beauty brand I saw tweeting about Jigglypuff, a very on-brand character.
So yes, I love Pokemon Go, and no, I never played Pokemon before this iteration. I somehow missed out on the craze when I was younger. I’m currently a level 11 with very little gym experience. If you have any battle tips, please leave them for me in the comments below! <3