Last summer I started playing 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 leaving the screen for open air, joining forces. I enjoyed great outdoor company from all kinds of people.
But when winter came everyone disappeared and it seemed that I was the only hatching eggs, collecting pokémons, spinning pokéstops and conquering gyms. I seldom saw anyone and felt kind of abandoned. In the spring it was still quite boring out by myself along with only some local twelve year olds 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 has 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 them. 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 features to fellow trainers. Results were seen instantaneously! Suddenly we could help each other 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 150+ peeps, from five year olds to seventy year olds assembling in raid battles. For the “mugglers”, that aren’t in the augmented reality, it probably seems super strange when, out of the blue, fifty random peeps turns up at a certain spot for ten minutes, organize themselves in groups, tap intensively on their phones for a while and then dissolve again, happily greeting the “family”.
This means that we have created a stable local social network, which is rare and highly 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 connection 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 go without human interaction for several days in a row. So thank you Niantic for adding this value and showing the world how you successfully can gamificate social interaction.
Greetings from a happy and connected PGO Mystic lvl 38