Like many children of the nineties, I grew up with color-clashing clothes, Macaulay Culkin movies, and a choice between Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charmander. The decision wasn’t easy, nor could it have been taken lightly, but inevitably Squirtle became my first ever Pokemon partner. Needless to say times have changed, but I’ve been unable to change with it. On Pokemon Go I encountered Pidgeys and Rattatas on my first step out of bed, just as me and my Squirtle did on Route One twenty years ago (and yes I chose Squirtle for my first Pokemon on Pokemon Go).
But I’ve realized Pokemon Go hasn’t just taken over my life, but the lives of everybody on my social media. On Facebook I’ve noticed people taking an interest in Pokemon Go that have never previously seen a Cloyster in their lives. The Digletts have emerged from their burrows and they’ve become Pokemon fans over night, running around their towns taking pictures of a Jynx at a bus station. Maybe I’m a cynic, or just pessimistic, but it does reek of popular opportunism.
Not that I shouldn’t be welcoming to our new Pokemon fans, the more people taking an interest in Pokemon the better! There’s just a sense of doubt, a sense of worry, that the whole project of Pokemon Go will become a fad. Remember when everyone was playing Angry Birds? Remember that Candy Crush Saga, brought to you by every girl on your Facebook feed? Or how about Farmville? The bandwagon was loaded and swiftly dumped when a new bandwagon came rolling around the corner.
Pokemon Go has begun a dream that was never meant to be possible. It shouldn’t be a conclusion, but the start of something much bigger. For the first time we can catch Pokemon around our home towns, our home villages, and even in the surrounding wilderness. It’s the canoe that could become the ship in years to come, but may well suffer a Titanic sink if the dream begins to fade for many. There’s a sense of purpose for many of us who dreamed of this moment, but there’s also a sense of destruction within those who are there only for the brief moment it remains popular.
Niantic have an opportunity. Pokemon has been one of the most successful franchises to date. It needs to ensure the continuation of Pokemon Go, keep the dream alive for those of us that maintain a dream to be a Pokemon trainer. The game we have now shouldn’t be the end. Generation Two Pokemon should be added when the right time comes, and an Elite Four concept would be a fun approach. I for one would gladly nominate myself as an Elite Four member, and would gladly be challenged by would-be hopefuls. Such a ranking system would bring more competition to the game, however complicated it might be to initiate. At the moment we have Pokemon Gyms provided to us by a real life location, but maybe in the future we could set up our own gyms and become the Gym Leader some of us always desired to be.
I realize such ideas are complicated, but Pokemon Go has already jumped over many hurdles to get this far, and there’s no reason to stop now. I just hope the surge in popularity (so much so that the servers are constantly down) doesn’t stop the commitment to the project when the bandwagon crashes for the tweeting sheep of opportunism. Pokemon Go needs to remain for the fans that have walked with Pokemon for the twenty years it existed. We’ve waited for this moment for a long time and it cannot become just a fad, it needs to become something bigger and better.
So while I’m out walking later, looking for an elusive Oddish hiding in the undergrowth, I’ll be hoping Pokemon Go never becomes the fad it’s almost destined to be.