Pokémania is back and bigger than ever—although I’m sure this is not news for anyone active on social media—or in the community, for that matter. Last week, I was with a close friend of mine walking along a sidewalk in City Park, and as the sun went down, the park began to swarm with groups of 3+ people, wandering around with their eyes peeled onto the screens of their phones. It was the first time I had seen anything like that, and it dawned on me then that the beloved 90s franchise could probably achieve world domination. Hearing and seeing all the Pokémon Go buzz would make anyone stop and wonder how we’ve gotten to this point. What are the implications of such a craze?
It’s true that nostalgia runs rampant in every generation, but for millennials in particular, it’s not hard to tell that we wish the 90s (and even decades before then) were still upon us. Consider The Splat on TeenNick, the television block from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. that gives viewers a lineup of some of the company’s biggest 90s TV hits. I’m talking Rugrats, Kenan & Kel, All That, etc. There’s also a plethora of remakes of classic favorites such as Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Jurassic World, or even Netflix’s Fuller House, an extension of the beloved 90s sitcom Full House. Even 90s fashion trends come to mind—think chokers, Doc Martens and space buns—the list goes on. We millennials still risk tearing a limb in order to grasp that which once comforted us in the past, even despite how much our other resources have progressed. In fact, perhaps these numerous throwbacks are simply a response to just that—our ever-evolving resources.
With the advances of smartphones, millennials have grown up with the ability to know every detail from any event around the globe with the swipe of a thumb. Of course, there are countless benefits to this added knowledge, but many of those shared details are major tragedies (and unfortunately, I don’t have to name such tragedies in order to give an idea of what I’m talking about). Think of the variety of news channels available that place a spotlight on the lamentable issues discussed by reporters as well as the seemingly endless scroll that loops separate information at the bottom of the screen. Then, add to that our phone notifications and the reports of accidents, losses, and social issues down Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds. All together, it’s a lot to take in! It’s as if we live on maximum overdrive in comparison to what life once was (cue Twenty One Pilots’ “Stressed Out”). So when a game like Pokémon Go becomes available, it allows this specific generation to step back into a simpler time and indulge in an updated expression of nostalgia.
Instead of leaning back against a creaky rocking chair and recalling the scent of grandma’s chicken potpie, the members of Generation Y huddle in packs around the city with faces glued to their phones, hurdling over fences in order to catch invisible pocket monsters that don’t exist to passersby. This faithfulness definitely makes us easy targets for businesses to bank off of, but it’s too much fun to resist. Besides, there are other bonuses to Pokémon Go that are too sweet to pass up.
For instance, in order to fully experience becoming the very best trainer that no one ever was, players eventually have to bust out their running shoes. The exercise required to excel in Pokémon Go makes me wonder if the creators are attempting to make a point about the general lifestyle of gamers (specifically the stereotypical idea of scattered Mountain Dew cans and stacks of pizza boxes in a room lit only by a screen and the bright green buttons of a video game console). It’s called Pokémon Go for a reason; I easily walked over 10 miles last Friday in order to hatch a Pokémon egg. Not only that, but I’ve met numerous other players in City Park, and we all searched together for the Pokémon hinted to be around the location.
The reasons why this game is spreading like a worldwide cultural phenomenon are countless. However, its popularity is predicted to fade in time. When that does happen, I will welcome the fully functioning server with open arms. Perhaps new updates and features will spring Pokémon Go back into pop culture in waves, but it’s too early to speak like that for now. As far as I’m concerned, those who were avid fans of the show and games in their youth are essentially living a dream come true, and perhaps it’s not such a surprising thing for its 40 million users to relish in.