If you look on the news, the stories you see about Pokemon Go are either stories laughing about how crazy the concept is (example: a police officer pulling over to play) or stories about people getting injured because of the game. What they are not covering is the cultural phenomenon. The past two nights, me and a couple of my friends have walked around the downtown area of my suburban town and have witnessed something revolutionary.
I live in a suburban town of 15,000 people and about 13 square miles. That’s not a lot of space and growing up here that was very apparent. There are no “hang out spots”; there’s a downtown but that only has a couple mini markets, a couple pizza places, a park and a library. It’s the type of suburban atmosphere where you make your own fun because even if you walk around…there’s not that much to do.
That’s why it was a complete culture shock to have seen around 20-30 people walking and at least 30 in cars downtown in the past 2 days playing Pokemon Go. Downtown is only one street, but you’d walk by either: two close friends looking down on their phones, a couple people on their bikes with the app open, or a large cluster of 5-6 people standing in a circle all looking at their devices.
“My mom is now thinking of getting it…everyone loves this game!” said an old companion from high school I ran into last night. We were discussing how crazy the scene was and how we only knew some of the many people. This surprised us because our small town only has one high school, so you pretty much know everyone around your age. But this game brings people out and walking around that I have never seen before. For example, a man at least in his 30’s joined our circle of conversation on the sidewalk last night. A completely random person telling us where all the hot spots are. And that is exactly why I think this whole thing is so interesting. Pokemon Go is creating a peaceful and social community.
A community that is united because there were countless times last night where someone in a car would yell out of their window “POKEMON!” while holding their phone with the app open. It is a community that is socialist and helps everyone because I ran into a group of 4 people who put up 4 different lures on the same street. Eventually people all flocked in clusters to these areas, thanking the people who set them up in the first place. It’s a community that has created it’s own social norms already even though it just formed. We were walking with a group we met up with and without even thinking, we stopped in the middle of our conversation to cross the street and hit up the Poke-stop. It has become a social norm in this community to give yourself up to the game. I recall one conversation talking about how one Poke-stop was in a sketchy area of town. “Yeah you had to go kinda in there…it felt weird” said the same companion as if he had to go in that area. He didn’t have to but it was a part of the game and the community him and the rest of Pokemon Go users are a part of.
Everyone I met in this newly formed community has been very friendly and peaceful because of their eagerness to share their ideas about the game. Whether it be theories on where certain Pokemon are in town, conversations about what team currently holds the closest gym, or just bonding over the game. Pokemon Go is creating a community that is more efficient and peaceful then a lot of others.