Unless you have been living in a remote jungle or going through some sort of digital detox for the last few weeks, you will undoubtedly have grown accustomed to the sight of frantic looking people wandering the streets, eyes fixed on their outstretched iPhone, looking for elusive Pokemon.
The recent launch of this pioneering app in the UK has caused a tidal wave of Brits to spill out of their front doors, into a brave new world of sunshine, air, and, get this, OTHER HUMANS. Not to mention a whole generation who had only just managed to suppress their residual love for the Pokemon franchise, to suddenly discover that it is once again socially acceptable to know the difference between a Bulbasaur and a Charmander.
With officially more users than twitter in the US, and stemming from an April Fool’s joke made by Google in 2014, Pokemon GO has become a truly global phenomenon. Of course, with every global phenomenon come inevitable side effects – some good, some bad, and some completely unforeseen… Here are 8 of the most incredible and unexpected we’ve seen so far:
- People are selling their phones. THEIR ACTUAL PHONES.
Before Pokemon GO (BPG), you couldn’t separate a smartphone user from their precious handset in exchange for 20 years of free brunch and VIP access to Kim Kardashian’s snapchat account. Now, savvy pros with the most sought-after Pokemon to their name are selling phones for thousands on ebay, and even stranger, people are willing buying them.
- There is a Pokemon GO dating app.
Pokemon GO has done more for bringing people together than the Great British Bake Off, Bob Geldof and Tinder combined, but some shrewd developers have taken this opportunity to its logical conclusion, and produced PokeDates – a dating app for lovers of the game to bond over their new hobby. Isn’t that as cute as a Pikachu hugging a Jigglypuff.
- Some shops and restaurants are noticing an increase in footfall.
A number of retailers including branches of Costa have reported a marked increase in takings and customer numbers since the game was launched, due to nearby Pokestops and Gyms drawing gamers in – hey, catching ‘em all is thirsty work!
- Some people think it’s a channel for global peace.
Countless good news stories of blossoming friendships, reuniting of lost loved ones and breaking down of societal boundaries have flooded social media every day since the app was launched, causing some to pronounce it as the millennial equivalent of the second coming.
- Religious communities and Pokemon fans are merging.
For reasons known only to Nintendo, many ‘Poke Gyms’ are located in and around churches, leading gamers to often venture inside. As a consequence, religious communities are being encouraged to welcome their new visitors, thus building bridges between demographics that may otherwise never have crossed paths. After all, as Hozier once sang, ‘take me to church, I need to win this gym for team Valor’.
- Many everyday items are finally getting their time to shine.
Poke Stops really can crop up anywhere. So far, such workaday objects as ashtrays, clocks, children’s playground equipment and public information points have all garnered more attention than ever, after having been reborn as key features of the game.
- Zoos are having to get creative.
As an attempt to engage visitors wandering the enclosures whilst glued to their phones, one ingenious zoo-keeper in Birmingham has started creating Pokemon inspired identities for her animals. That’s right, even giraffes need to work hard to get noticed now.
- For possibly the first time ever, Justin Bieber was ignored by fans.
If anything proves the unstoppable power of Pokemon GO, it’s this – after having turned up to an organised Pokemon event with bodyguards in tow, former teen heartthrob J-Biebs was completely blanked by fans who were more concerned with snapping up a Meowth than his autograph. Ouch.
As crazy as it seems, Pokemon GO has only been a feature of our lives here in the UK for one week, and if it has changed the scope of our universe this much already, just imagine what incredible things are yet to come. And lord help us if the servers ever goes down again.