Do you know your Pikachu from your Squirtle? If not, then the following might make no sense to you but if yes, then you could be addicted to Pokemon Go.
It might just be a case of the sunshine making us a bit crazy but Fifers – and I mean even those of an age you might expect to know better – have been embracing a craze that’s been sweeping the globe and causing all kinds of chaos since it was launched just over a week ago.
Available in 35 countries, including the majority in Europe, USA, Canada and Japan, demand for the game has led to servers crashing and doubled the stock value of company behind it, Nintendo.
People have been arrested trying to break into places to ‘capture’ elusive Pokemons – although that has been in the USA where the enthusiasm has been fever pitch – but more seriously, there is also the question of where is it appropriate for gamers to be playing. For example, Auschwitz authorities have had to ask Nintendo to exclude the former Nazi German death camp from games as it was felt it was highly disresctful for players to have their smart phones out chasing digital Pokemons.
If you’re still scratching your head by the whole Pokemon Go phenomenon, I’ll go back to basics.
The game is a landmark in the development of gaming that brings together the digital and physical worlds into what is called “augmented reality”. It’s not the first to use augmented reality but it has captured the imagination of millions worldwide.
Part of that is because it taps into the generation who grew up with the original games and have caught Pokemon (the word is shortened from ‘Pocket Monsters’) fever all over again.
The original Pokémon games take place in a world populated by exotic, powerful monsters — they can look like rats, snakes, dragons, dinosaurs, birds, eggs, trees, and even swords – and people called “trainers” travel the globe to tame these creatures and use them to fight against each other.
The games took the world by storm in the late 1990s, with distinctive handheld games in various colours and led to spinoffs such as Pokemon Snap, a hit TV show, movies, trading cards and lots of other merchandising.
The ultimate question, however, was what if Pokemon could be seen in real life? Which is where the augmented reality of Pokemon Go comes in and it hits a double whammy of technology and nostalgia.
Using your smartphone’s ability to track the time and your location, you look at your screen and the game imitates what it would be like if Pokemon really were roaming around you, ready to be caught in a picture and collected.
Player can also visit ‘Gyms’ and Pokestops where they can gather and collect extra Pokemons.
However, it’s not only those who remember the games from first time around. Any youngster with a smartphone knows enough about digital cameras and GPS so there is next to no learning curve involved. Download the game – for free – and start playing. It really is that simple.
Which is why you can’t fail to have missed people around you with their phones out in front of them, walking about deep in concentration, as they hunt their next Pokemon.
Even Police Scotland have been tapping into the craze.
Levenmouth Police – which has been using the venacular and humour in their tweets to build up thousands of followers to its Twitter account – went viral last weekend when it tweeted: “Lookin for those Pokemon hings? Dinny be doin that at 3 in the morning in someones gairden or you’ll get huckled fae us! #witsthatawaboot”.
It went on to be retweeted more than 1500 times.