In the week that political resignations, leadership battles and market turmoil dominated news headlines, a certain monster-hunting mobile game was busy making waves online.
Pokemon Go’s mixture of gaming and reality has proved a huge success. Barely a weeksince the launch of Pokémon Go — the smartphone app and game that exploded into popularity with a speed and impact that no other app has ever matched. It smudges the line between video games and the real world. And the part of the real world that’s been the most impacted has been transportation.
Released on July 6, Pokémon Go is a mobile phone game that lets you catch over 150 Pokémon, colourful and cute cartoon monsters that are found everywhere around you, from your breakfast corner to the local chemist to resturants. When you stumble upon one of these critters, they appear in your phone’s camera app, as though they were really sitting atop your office desk. It’s a technique called augmented reality (AR), which overlays the visual elements of a virtual world over the real world. To catch ’em all, players must physically venture far and wide, making walking treks and riding buses and driving across town with the dream of becoming a Pokémon master.
Pokémon is hardly new: The original game launched on Nintendo’s Game Boy 20 years ago, and the series has gone on to become one of Nintendo’s most recognisable, popular, and profitable franchises. Since its original release in 1996, countless sequel games, spinoffs, movies, and TV series have been released.
But Pokémon Go has triggered a wave of Pokémania that hasn’t been seen since the pop culture empire’s initial debut back in the ’90s.
While Twitter remains a firm favourite for political chatter, app analytics firm SimilarWeb says Pokemon Go now has more daily users on Android phones in the US than the social media firm.
SimilarWeb says players are using Pokemon Go for an average of 43 minutes a day – that’s more than Whatsapp, Instagram or Snapchat.
Since the game makes players walk around to hunt Pokemon, it means an average man playing the game for seven days would burn 1,795 calories – and a woman would burn 1,503.
There were 15.3 million tweets worldwide about Pokemon Go in its first week. That’s more than the 11.7 million for Brexit in the week of the UK referendum – and double the 7.5 million tweets about the Euro 2016 football championships in its first seven days.
Online searches for the game have spiked too – there have been almost as many Google searches worldwide for Pokemon Go as there were for Brexit on the day the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Even pornography, an enduring internet fascination, has been overtaken by interest in the app.
Now something for the players.
While the main method of catching Pokemon is simply to find them, to get the rarer ones you could try hatching some eggs.
Players can collect eggs at Pokestops – real world landmarks that appear in the game – but you have to walk a certain distance for them to hatch. The rarest Pokemon hatch from eggs after a 10km (6 mile) walk – then 5km and 2km for the more common creatures
With the game now having been released in the UK and expected to be released in many more countries soon, it is a fair guess that Pokemon Go’s popularity will continue.
Gotta Catch ’em all Pokemon.