“How old were they?”
“They were our age! Like, grown ups. Walking around like zombies – it’s crazy”
Yes – crazy seems to be the right word. Children are understandable, if still a little tragic. But ladies and gents, professional business people in Wakefield can be seen in full public view playing Pokémon Go. Shameless in being so conspicuous, they walk around hypnotised by their phones, eyes darting around for any one of the 151 catchable characters in the smartphone app that has taken the world by a storm.
So what on earth is this Pokémon Go lark everyone seems to be talking about? There are several dimensions to the answer…
First – it’s the next generation launch for Pokémon – led by the legendary Pikachu, the cartoon phenomenon was launched by Nintendo on their ubiquitous Gameboy in the 1995. Realising the wonga to be made, Pokémon quickly spread into a cartoon series, cuddly toys, balloons and various other cheap and nasty things.
Second – it’s a smartphone app – but a special one in that it uses augmented reality technology. Basically the placement of animated creations into a reality, as seen on a smartphone screen via the camera. Augmented reality is tipped to be a game changer for the next generation of tech, and Pokémon Go is widely regarded as its biggest launch into the mainstream.
Third – it’s an enormous money-making cash cow for Nintendo – or at least that’s their hope. Within days of being launched just a few weeks ago it added $9 billion to the company’s market value. And when a Pokémon obsessive feels compelled to spend £75 on some balls (in both senses of the word), you can see the reason why. There are tens of millions of these folk – and thousands of them live in Wakefield – just around the corner from where you are now.
It’s a money spinner for more than just these micro-transactions though. Our local shopping centres are helping fund the boom by buying Lures! These little gadgets are a temptation to bring Pokémon characters into their vicinity to be caught. And loose Pokémon are crowd pullers. Sprinkling crispy new fivers from the ceiling of Trinity Walk Wakefield would have a similar crowd pulling effect – just check out the YouTube movies. And as and when the Lure expires after 30 minutes, these well-paid professional 30-something Pokémon hunters then check out the Jack & Jones mid-season sale, before getting a Chai Latte to take away from Costa and driving home in their shiny 1 Series motors.
That’s not to mention the churches, the libraries, the farm shops, the ice cream vans and the umm, Holocaust Museum who swiftly had a change of heart. Then consider a Coca-cola branded Pokestop in the not too distant future. Or even a Bill’s Butchers Wakefield one – pick up a Pokémon and get some half-price sausage.
So next time you see someone with a look of excited expectation on their face, as if they’ve just seen Keith Chegwin on their driveway clutching a man-size cheque, chuckle to yourself as you realise they’ve probably just snapped up Jigglypuff or one of his friends into their Pokedeck. They’ve got some exercise whilst traipsing around St Johns Church, they’ve raised their heartbeat a little and perhaps even got a little hot under the collar with excitement. They’ve contributed to the £3million daily revenue of Nintendo, and also to their street cred as they tell their Pokemates of their fine achievement.