The year is 1998. I’m standing in Toys”R”Us, holding a slip of paper that reads “Pokémon: Blue Version - $29.95”.
“Are you sure this is the game you want?” my father asks.
Confidentially, I respond, “Yes.”
Now 30-years-old and in the media business, I’m watching headline after headline roll in:
- Times Reporter Descends Into Pokémania — The New York Times
- What is really behind the Pokémon Go craze — The Washington Post
- When you’re a kid, Pokémon Go is a portal to a magical world — The Verge
- Pokémon Go is everything that is wrong with late capitalism — Vox
- Thanks To Pokémon Go, I Walked More In 2 Days Than I Do In A Normal Week — SELF
- Pokemon GO gets people out and about, and that’s a good thing — Australian Science
- How Shelters Are Using Pokémon Go to Help Homeless Animals — POPSUGAR
- This Pokémon Go naming scheme is our greatest achievement as a species — Polygon
It seems every outlet is writing about the phenomenon that is Pokémon GO; seemingly the second coming of the franchise in North America. And for someone who grew up poring over GamePro and EGM, there is a small bit of vindication every time a major publication like the Times or the Post covers video games in a positive light.
The game has ”almost certainly exceeded 65 million American users“, Nintendo’s share price has risen 53%, and all of my feeds (TV included) have been taken over by this game. Over and over, I read stories of the diverse communities engaging in Pokémon GO together. People everywhere partaking in arguably the world’s largest Easter egg hunt together. They are discovering destinations and landmarks in their hometowns via PokéStops and Gyms together.
The biggest shock of all came when our lawyer informed me that she’d caught a Bulbasaur over the weekend.
Caught a Bulbasaur.
For someone who grew up with the original Pokémon Red and Blue versions, the dawn of the franchise, that sentence shouldn’t exist.
This whole thing is looney, nuts, insane even. This is a game rooted in green, red, and blue plastic Game Boy cartridges and 11 MB black and white (green) software from the late-90s. But for a child of the late-80s / early-90s, it’s all surreal, strange, and beautiful to watch.
The franchise is once again re-shaping ideas about gaming and technology. The game itself is re-shaping ideas about community and education. Pokémon GO joins other experience, culture, and zeitgeist defining titles such as Pong, Super Mario Bros., Tamagotchi, Golden Eye, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft. For that, I deem Pokémon GO “Game of the Year”.
And yes, it’s July.