Pokemon Go’s Best Feature May Be its Lack of Social Features

Archer making friends at the park
Archer making friends at the park

Everyone is Trying to Catch Them All!

Pokemon Go has been everywhere since its release. It’s unclear how it will continue on as a mobile app, but its release has been meteoric despite many technical issues in the first few days. I’ll be honest, it’s not what I hoped for. It feels more like a generic AR app than a true Pokemon game, but the skin that’s on it seems like it’s enough. I’ve had some fun with it, but I may have put it down by now if not for its true killer feature.

Pokemon is an almost universal concept within people my age. Not everyone loves it, but everyone knows about the dream of catching them all. That’s been a huge key to its success so far, it evokes just enough nostalgia for just about everyone I see to be at least a little interested in talking about it, even if they have no other interest in video games. That’s the best part of this app, in a world where stimulation and media are everywhere and no one thing can catch everyones attention, Pokemon is captivating an entire generation.

Nintendo’s New Killer App

With that dominant amount of mind share, Pokemon Go has done something few apps have managed. It has transcended our digital lives into our actual social ones. One of the first things I checked for in Pokemon go was a sort of friends list, a near universal feature in the age of social media, but there was nothing to be found. That’s where the apps magic started kicking in. In a time where every app features a heavy focus on reviews and ways to share it with friends, Pokemon Go forced me to just ask people if they were playing it and what they thought. A friends list where you can see each other’s Pokemon is an obvious feature, but the app makes to meet up with friends and compare Pokemon in person.

These pesky Pidgey's are everywhere!
These pesky Pidgey’s are everywhere!

Pokemon Go’s Impact So Far

It may encourage people to walk around with their phones out all the time as well. That’s a definite negative for me, but it also encourages you to get out and walk around more, usually with a friend or 2. Social media, twitter specifically, has been rampant with people talking about how they have sore legs for the first time in awhile due to hunting pokemon. How can that be a bad thing for a app to accomplish when so many are just focused on holding our attention above all else? I’ve already heard so many jokes about how Pokemon Go has already accomplished what Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign has been attempting to do for 7 years, just get kids off their ass and outside to play. No harm in that, as long as you don’t get caught by an armed robber who set up an in-game lure to catch want to be poke-masters off guard.

New features, like trading, are already being promised by developers and Nintendo’s stock price has gone up by 25%, so it doesn’t seem like Pokemon Go will be losing its spotlight anytime soon. As the game evolves, let’s hope it maintains the real life social component that makes it so special. It’s hilarious that almost the entire staff of the brewery I work at is playing the same app, and even more amusing that its about catching imaginary pets.

pokemon go-3

Upslope’s North Boulder PokeStop

Also, if you happen to be searching around the Boulder area, Upslope’s North Boulder location on Lee Hill just happens to be a PokeStop. I caught a Gastly up there yesterday. Happy hunting everyone! Thanks for reading and let me know that you thought of the post in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Pokemon Go’s Best Feature May Be its Lack of Social Features

  1. Very interesting and well-thought out post! I agree that Pokemon’s best features are the social elements in the real world. Calling it a lack of social features is a bit misleading perhaps, but I get what you mean. If and when they allow trading and PvP, then those would be social features, no? Though I would say social media plays a huge part, and by allowing you to take a picture, it’s pretty much saying, “Post it on the internet, you can figure out how yourself.” Don’t get me wrong. I agree with everything you’re saying. I’m just confused why you consider Pokemon GO to have a lack of social features.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great comment. I was primarily referring to the current lack of a friend’s list and messaging type feature to track how your friends are doing and what they’ve caught within the game itself. The lack of those features encourage conversations outside the app. You can definitely interface with people through other digital channels, but the fact that those obvious communication features aren’t in the app itself is novel when every other app is trying to monopolize users attention. We’ll see how the app develops with trading and PvP, which obviously will promote interactions in the game, but it’s really interesting to see the unique and organic way that this game has spread like wildfire.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah! I see what you mean. It’s great that Pokemon GO has been able to get so many people out and talking with one another. I know Niantic worked on Ingress before. but there’s something about the nostalgia and magic surrounding Pokemon that gets people to talk about it in the real world. I’m so pleased that Pokemon GO is reminding people how Pokemon was a part of their lives. As a fan since the beginning, I love being able to talk to others whom I have lost touch with and strangers on the street, just because we have a common interest. It’s bringing people together in such an amazing way!

        Liked by 1 person

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