In 2016, the virtual reality phenomenon swept the world.
People were going out of their houses for the first time in weeks, months even.
Peaking with two hundred million users, the app was hailed as the next best
thing since the last best thing.
And then, as so often with fickle modernity, the tide turned. People were allegedly being lured to out-of-the-way spots to have crimes perpetrated upon them. Players had found dead bodies in their search for the imaginary creatures. Gamers were trampling all over private property, desecrating monuments and cemeteries in their bid to find rare treasures. The game started glitching, a victim of its own massive success. Updates didn’t come through fast enough to satisfy the insatiable fans – some of whom travelled across the world to collect all the Pokémon (of which there was over four thousand, even in those early days) – and service outages plagued some players games, losing them precious access to rare beasts or places.
The app designers attempt to have a festival in Chicago bombed miserably. Updates caused the game to glitch, the day’s events were all plagued with troubles, and fans were angered at having spent time and money travelling for very little in return.
One might have been forgiven for thinking that Pokémon Go had packed up and gone when the full scope of the disastrous festival emerged.
Instead, this year’s festival reveals the truth about the games enduring popularity. True, it no longer has the two hundred million players it had in its absolute peak of novel popularity – but the current sixty-million-strong fan-base compares very favourably with the forty-million Uber users, wouldn’t you say? Those sixty million fans have stood the test of time, outlasting the update issues and game glitches, and their patience has been well rewarded.
The game now runs smoothly, with updates coming out on time and in good shape, new creatures are released often enough to keep interest levels high, and the producers have learned to keep their heads below the parapet. Sensitive areas – such as temples, churches, cemeteries and even schools – are noted before gyms and waystations are set up, players are cautioned about following the game into unsafe areas, and the game is no longer subject to the intense, nit-picking scrutiny that it faced in its early days.
Do you still play? Or are you a new convert? Or is Pokémon Go a closed book that you hadn’t realised was still an option for those lazy days when you want to immerse yourself in an augmented world for a little while?