Our Take on Pokémon Go (as if you needed another)

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It’s been a few weeks now since Pokémon Go unleashed its digital maelstrom on the mobile gaming world, and theres been no lack of perspectives offered up on what to make of it all. Hey, what’s one more?

That everyone’s felt compelled to weigh in on what has essentially become a gaming phenomenon is no small wonder. As more companies and brands vie for ways to gain and keep consumersattention through their smartphones, user engagement remains the digital Holy Grail. In a survey recently released and handily summarized by VentureBeat, 82% of the 2000 Pokémon players polled say theyd keep playing until they catch every last Pokémon, and another 70% say they expect to still be chasing them in a month.

And just to give you one more frame of reference: people are now spending more time playing Pokémon Go than they are scrolling Facebook.

Borderline addiction to games on our smartphones is nothing new. (Think Angry Birds.)

But the nature of Pokémon Go is also the beginning of something different. This has to do, of course, with the game’s use of augmented reality (AR), which projects the Pokémon characters into a virtual map of a player’s surroundings. As AR and other mobile gaming technology continue to get better, so too will the experiences it enables. In fact, one of our favorite things about Pokémon Gos popularity so far is that its getting people to go outside – and walking as much as 11 and 30 miles! Which we can certainly applaud and relate to as big fans of outdoor exploration ourselves.

All of which is just to say the numbers surrounding Pokémon Go are impressive by any account so its no surprise people should be trying to make sense of them.

One of our favorite explanations is by Talent Culture’s Meghan Biro, who helps put Pokémon Go in context by drawing an analogy to the workplace and peoples’ inherent desire to win. In the game, the ultimate rung of winning – all creatures notwithstanding – involves taking over a Pokémon gym. And for that, regardless of how good they are, players need a solid team.

And therein lies what we think is the ultimate takeaway from all this.

For even as mobile gaming becomes more sophisticated – more lifelike, if you will – through technology like AR, the interpersonal dynamics that make up our real-world still hold the key. To our sense of connection. To our happiness. To our ability to be truly successful.

Pokémon Go would have likely won its millions of fans over on the basis of playersindividual craftiness alone, capturing various Pikachus, Squirtles, Charizards, and Mewtwos. The fact that it saves the ultimate definition of success – or as Biro puts it #winning – for players with the better, stronger teams is the biggest reason why we think it’s pretty great too.

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