Ok Adelaide, it’s time we had a heart to heart. We’re not kids anymore. Most of us have jobs to go, careers even that we’ve worked towards for years; degrees we’ve sunk tens of thousands of dollars into. We have mortgages to pay, some of us have children and pets to feed, and more importantly, dreams and aspirations that we’ve invested our heart and soul into for most of our lives.
And none of that matters. Seriously, screw it all. Life has been a hollow sham until this moment, like we’ve been watching an endless marathon of The Nanny. Because as if we didn’t already have a deep seated addiction to our mobile devices, things just kicked up a notch. That’s right, the future is here people and Pokemon is back. Get us some shades, because this is sparkling!
In just under a month since its release, Pokemon Go has overtaken Twitter on Android for daily users. It has been reported as a CIA surveillance operation, the cause of multiple car accidents and armed robberies, responsible for the discovery of dead bodies and luring youngsters into gay bars. It’s even resulted in massive jumps in Pokemon requests in Porn search engines. Classy everyone. We are literally one half baked Kanye West rap track away from complete saturation.
But even if you don’t play, you’ll have noticed that what’s going on across Adelaide currently is actually amazing.
Firstly, walking through Rundle Mall in the evening you’ll see countless people sitting on benches and not only looking at their phones but talking, walking and exploring. The augmented universe of Pokemon in Adelaide and across the suburbs for the matter, aims to take players to real life locations, landmarks and occasionally shops. At each location, the player can collect items or at times, catch Pokemon, but what’s been so surprising is that people are actually traveling serious distances and seeking out locations. Sure, the map is skewed at the moment towards the city, but it’s evolving based on recommendations fed back to Niantic, the company who are responsible for the map.
Created by local players, it can help you understand the vast scale and detail of what’s going on, and if you’re already a player, it’s also the perfect guide to get you out and discovering different parts of the city. From amazing artwork to graffiti, old buildings and Adelaide institutions, you can find endless numbers of places to visit.
Then there’s locations who have already taken things a step further like the Adelaide Zoo. Touting itself as a destination where fans of the game can expand their Pokédex, Adelaide Zoo has released a special edition downloadable Pokémon Go map for users to track down nearly 20 Pokéstops within the zoo grounds.
On top of this, we’re seeing Pub Crawls organised, online communities growing, and bizarrely people actually outside in this miserable weather. If not knowing anything about the game is a barrier to you, there’s a host guides which can help you jump in. And you don’t even need to catch a single one of the little buggers if you don’t want to to enjoy the adventure on offer.
Adelaide local Ben Teoh, who was also a beta tester on the game before it was released and plays regularly in Glenelg around Moseley Square, is in many ways not surprised by how the game is extending itself. “As a tester, it was a fairly solitary experience,” he recalls “I spent a number of nights walking around Glenelg, testing the game and walking loops of Moseley Square by myself, “catching” Pokemon. If I spoke to anyone about it, the idea seemed absurd.”
“Now that the game has been released, if I go down to Glenelg, I’d just be one of the crowd of Pokemon players who gather at Moseley Square regularly to catch Pokemon and collect items. In fact, it would be fair to say that at some times, the people playing Pokemon out-number those who aren’t.”
“What makes it interesting for me isn’t just the game, that element of local discovery and exploring parts of Adelaide that I don’t normally visit is huge. Incentives within the game have lead me to come across plaques and sculptures that I didn’t know existed along North Terrace and street art tucked down alley ways that I’ve walked past without noticing before.”
“I’ve also had great chats with other Pokemon players who are doing the same. One couple I met were on holiday and were using the game as a way to discover the local area. Another person had travelled to Glenelg from the northern suburbs to join the swarms of people. A group that I spoke to were busy comparing scores but clearly enjoying the camaraderie and social aspect of working together to find elusive Pokemon. As a social game which gets people exploring their local area with others, there’s a lot of potential that Pokemon Go offers.” It’s no wonder the game is also starting to get noticed for its mental health benefits.
It remains to be seen if Pokemon GO will have staying power, and it will be fascinating to watch once the game launches worldwide as to how it rolls out. But it’s also clear that this isn’t just about a wave of nostalgia. Much like its players, Pokemon Go is utterly immersed in the city around us.