El Segundo High School

Pokémon GO sweeping the nation


My brother, who is studying abroad in Italy this summer, snapchatted me a message last night while I was sleeping.

“Incredibly important respond ASAP,” he wrote.

Being that he is nine hours ahead, I got this when I awoke, my heart raced, and I immediately responded.

“Which Pokemon GO team did you join?” he wrote back. 

And just like that the Poké-world as we know it evolves; just like our favorite Pokémon characters evolve, so too did our beloved childhood game, into Pokémon GO.

As a 17-year-old girl about to turn 18 this month, Pokémon has been a foundational part of my childhood.  When we were young, my brother and I had the playing cards and would sit for hours playing just the two of us or with friends. But, what really took over our life were the Pokémon games Ruby and Sapphire. Now, we have Pokémon GO; although my brother is 20 and I am 17, the game has grabbed our interest with intensity, and we are just as captivated as all of the young children across the nation.

Since July 7 when the game launched, I have come across 3 year olds playing, and adults into their 60s; it is bonding as all the game players excitedly chat about where they found the Pokémon and items. It is a fun way to build family fun and community engagement.

Here is what is so captivating. It is exhilarating to go on a Pokémon GO hunt. You are the “Trainer” and can make your Trainer look however you like- something you cannot usually do in the games. There is a thrill that runs through you as you race to catch a new Pokémon by throwing a PokéBall to catch it once spotted. “Yes!” I exclaim each time I caught one, and all of the excitement that I had playing Pokémon when I was 5 recaptures my heart.

We have been traveling since the launch, so I have been catching Pokémon in major cities across the nation. It is a new way to explore cities and towns around where you live, around the nation, and the globe as you work to capture as many Pokémon as you can; they are located at notable sites such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments.

My brother is in Milan, Italy, and he and his friends have been running around the city in search of Pokémon. Although he has been in Milan for four weeks, in the last four days he tells me he has covered more terrain of the city that all of the past four weeks. His study abroad group is even thinking to visit Rome via Pokémon GO as their guide.

I think this could be revolutionary in how we teach the youth if Pokémon GO evolves into virtual school learning environments.  The concept of gamification at its finest where kids could be immersed in a virtual history environment and run around Independence Square to get Pokémon and learn about the history of our nation and such documents as The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights. Pokémon is on to something that in one short week is revolutionizing how we learn, and making it fun! Not to mention, making us exercise along the way as we walk and run to find those Pokémon.

And to the naysayers, so what if the media outcry that Pokémon is capturing out personal data when we are sharing our locations. “Big Brother” has been accessing this data via Facebook, Twitter, etc. for over a decade now. I am sure they will sell my information to advertisers, but oh what a small price to pay to catch just one more Zubat! After all, Pokémon is a business intended to make a profit, and in exchange for a lifetime of fun and memories they deserve to make some money!

Forbes reported on July 11 that “market intelligence firm Sensor Tower estimates Pokémon GO already has 7.5M U.S. downloads on iOS and Android since early July 7, with $1.6M in daily revenue in Apple’s iOS store alone.” My bet is that this is going to be a billion-dollar global phenomenon, and I for one can say they deserve every penny- thank you Pokémon GO for allowing me to enjoy the excitement of childhood just as I am about to turn eighteen.

P.S. Go Team Blue!