Unless you've been living under a rock with no Wi-Fi for the past week, Pokémon Go has taken over the world. It's no surprise; this is probably the closest we'll ever get to becoming real life Pokémon trainers, and everyone wants in on it. However, what is surprising is all the good that the game is doing. I don't mean that the game itself is really good; in fact, there are a lot of serious problems that need to be patched ASAP (constantly crashing servers, lack of trading, and a frustrating tracking system, to name a few). What I mean is that Pokémon Go is having a genuinely positive impact on the world at large. Never before has a video game made people so much more sociable, more physically active, and surprisingly so much more kind to their fellow human beings. It's even helping people with mental health issues. There are tons of articles out already talking about how great the game is, but there's one question I feel has been somewhat ignored, perhaps because no one wants to think about it.
Is Pokémon Go just a fad?
Video games, and especially mobile games, don’t tend to remain relevant for very long. In an industry that’s constantly adding new material and attempting to reshape its own landscape, a single game doesn’t stand much of a chance of maintaining its hype past the year of its release. This isn’t a bad thing; in fact, this constant drive to create new, enticing games is what has made video games such a big part of the modern entertainment industry. If Pokémon Go is going to maintain its following, it’s going to have to adapt by adding new features and improving the current gameplay. Even then, the physical and time-consuming demands of the game may lose their appeal over time and become more of a liability than an asset. The Pokémon branding will definitely keep it going strong over the next several months, but nothing lasts forever. Whether the game’s popularity declines in the next few weeks or the next few years, it will eventually decline.
But here’s the thing: that doesn’t matter.
Even if the game itself is just a fad, even if we’re all done with it by tomorrow morning, Pokémon Go has done something that few games ever accomplish. It’s proven that video games can be good for society as a whole. Even now, at the height of the industry’s power, video games are looked down on as childish, wasteful of time, or damaging to one’s mental health. Pokémon Go is the culmination of decades’ worth of video games struggling to prove that gaming isn’t just a form of entertainment. It’s not even just an art form. It’s something that can actively change the world. It’s something that can have an impact on the lives of millions of people all around the world. Pokémon Go proves that games can bring people together and notably improve the quality of their lives.
Pokémon Go may fade away as new games rise to take its place, but the impact it leaves surely won’t. Because it’s proven that a game, even one as simple as catching virtual creatures, can make the world a better place.