Last summer I started to play Pokémon Go and got totally hooked – as y’all probably already know.
I loved the collecting, the walking and the augmented reality. In the beginning everyone was engaged. Suddenly you could see pale teenagers who had left the screen for open air, joining forces. I really had great outdoor company from all kinds of people.
But when winter came everyone disappeared and it seemed that it was only me who was hatching eggs, collecting pokémons, spinning pokéstops and concurring gyms. I seldom saw anyone and felt kind of abandoned. In the spring it was still quite boring with only me and some local twelve year old’s on bikes.
Then, this summer, something marvelous happened! Niantic developed the game and forced us to unite in order to defeat, first ordinary strong Pokémons as bosses, and then the great legendary birds everyone’s had waited for in huge raid battles. In the beginning we couldn’t find one another and it was pure luck if we gathered at the same place in in the same time to defeat. But then we found Discord, an ordinary communication app for gamers, and started a local server on it. Then we spread the word of its existence and function to fellow trainers. The result was immediate! Suddenly we could help each other to keep track of raid battles, adapt the raid time to suit as many as possible and create a community of great value.
Now we are a bunch of 150+ peeps, from five year old’s to seventy years old’s, that assembles in raid battles. For the “mugglers”, that aren’t in the augmented reality, it has to be super strange when, out of the blue, fifty random peeps turns up on a certain spot for ten minutes, organize themselves in groups, taps intensively on the phones for a while and then dissolves again, happily greeting the “family”.
This means that we have created a stabile local social network which is rare and very valuable. This community now has become like an extended family for many. It keeps us feeling safe and in a familiar context. So I beg to differ when people argue that social media doesn’t create social iconnection IRL. On the contrary – it has really made a huge difference for many of the people who otherwise wouldn’t meet. Especially for those who sometimes are being without human interaction for days in a row. So thank you Niantic for creating this added value and showing the world how you successfully can gamificate social interaction.
Greetings from a happy and connected PGO Mystic lvl 38