By now you or dozens of your friends with smartphones have downloaded the Pokémon Go app. The augmented reality mobile game that was released in the United States on July 6, yes, just over a week ago, has already been downloaded onto over 7.5 million Android and iOS devices. The game has overtaken Twitter in the number of daily active users. So, what’s the big deal, and is Pokémon Go something you, or your children, should participate in playing?
Pokémon Go is a free app that’s very simple to download on either Google Play or iTunes. You can purchase in-game currency, called PokéCoins. You don’t have to spend actual money to participate, but you will pay with your time (and phone battery use)!
The game uses your phone’s GPS, so your real-world location appears on your screen and you’ll see Pokémon appear in your surrounding environment. Just about anywhere you go, you’ll see people of all ages looking intently at their smartphones…they’re probably capturing a wild Pokémon right now!
When a player catches a Pokémon with a Pokéball, it gets added to your Pokédex, which is kind of like a Pokémon database where you can personalize them later. As you gain more experience, you’ll be ready to go to a “gym” and battle your Pokémon against other trainers (who are actually real people who are also playing the game).
PokéStops are located around different landmarks. You can interact with these stops and get items. Some items further your ability as a trainer, or draw other players to the location. So, there’s a social aspect to the game.
It has been said that if you want to become rich, take a look at what was popular during your childhood and spend some time developing a product around it. Nintendo’s stock value has jumped $7.5 billion since the game’s release, thus proving that statement to be true.
We’re just a week into the Pokémon Go phenomenon, “social crazes” like these come and go. Just two years ago, the ALS Association’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” went viral, but now seems like a distant memory. And, we’re still getting used to how we use new technologies. Think about it, just under a decade ago, many of us didn’t know what Facebook or Twitter were (much less, a smartphone where we have access to a world’s-worth of information in our pockets)!
As with any new technology that presents itself to us, we have a decision to make. Will it cause us to grow in Christlikeness–allowing us to minister to those around us? Or, will it draw us away from others? Whether you choose to play Pokémon Go or not, it’s your heart that God is concerned about. Choose wisely.