There’s a global phenomenon that’s sweeping the world at the moment, and if you haven’t heard about it you’re probably one of the very few.

To say I’m a Pokémon-fanatic is an understatement. From the TV show and Pokémon cards to the games and the movies, it’s one of those things that remained a constant in my life. I grew up in the prime Pokémon era in the 90s (first game was in 1996), and my Mam was there to fuel my passion.

For those who don’t know what Pokémon GO is, it’s an augmented reality mobile game where people (or trainers), can capture Pokémon in their surroundings using their camera. Trainers can build up levels and prestige by capturing more Pokémon, but the key to the game is exploration (and in my case, a lot of running around O’Connell Street and the Botanic Gardens!).

So how has that brought my Mam and I closer I hear you asking? Well, because Mam saw me grow up with Pokémon, she has a better understanding of the craze.

Mom-with-Pikachu-pokemon

“Is Pikachu the yellow fella?” my Mam asked when I asked her to take this shot – By the way, guiding Mam on how to take selfies for this blogpost also had us in giggles.

As my Mam says, “It’s a great reminder and we can think back on the childhood days of you trading cards!”

Standing outside the door of Wagamamas at St. Stephen’s Green might sound like the unlikeliest of bonding places, but now I’m going to have fond memories of Mam throwing pokéballs at a sneaky visitor there.

The Pokémon in question was a Zubat, a flying and poison-type Pokémon that was whizzing about and avoiding Mam’s pokéballs but eventually with a swift curveball move, she caught him!

With glee, she whooped and much to the amusement of the people coming up behind us announced what she had just achieved. I mean, how great is that??

Pokémon GO’s target audience I doubt is mothers and daughters playing together, but this is just a simple example of how it can work, and how we worked as a team.

Text-from-mom-about-pokemon

So can Pokémon GO help you connect with other people?

Yes! Most definitely. Let me give you another scenario. Recently I was sitting by the Molly Malone statue, catching a few Pokémon when these two kids stopped by me, excitedly discussing what they were going to catch next:

https://twitter.com/unakavanagh/status/759374053299875840

For introverts like me (a trait that’s familiar to gamers), this simple interaction can not only brighten up my day but can also connect me with people that I may not necessarily connect with on a normal basis.

Fellow blogger Val Robus and her son Jono have also connected more through Pokémon GO. “We are very close anyway, but now we are Pokémon hunting together”, she tells me.

“[We’re] planning a Dublin Bus site-seeing tour because Jono tells me the route is great to try and catch them. He’s helping me with the game because I haven’t a clue!

“It’s brilliant for Jono because it’s encouraging him to walk more. His physio was on at him for months to get active but it didn’t work. Pokemon GO is great for him”.

You can read more about her Pokémon GO experience with Jono here.

How does this relate to travel?

I would say that it relates more to local exploration than travel. I doubt that people are going to head abroad specifically to catch Pokémon but what it has done is gotten people up and about, discovering new places that they might not find had they simply been strolling around.

That being said, diehard fans may want to combine their holidaying with Pokémon catching: A bus company in Phoenix is testing out Luxury Pokémon GO tours, a taxi company in Edinburgh is offering a 20 minute Pokémon tour for £15 and Reykjavik Excursions in Iceland has launched a 4-hour tour of Pokémon hotspots.

While the media is tending to focus a lot on people getting injured or doing stupid things while playing, I think that the majority of players have their wits about them and know when to look up and know it for what it is: quite simply a mobile game, with the emphasis on mobile.

So is Pokémon GO a phase and will people grow out it?

Probably not actually, and I’ll tell you why. Pokémon was born in the 90s and is still incredibly popular 20 years on because of its ability to transform across multiple mediums, like TV, movies, game consoles and now mobile. Not only that, but people love the merchandise as well: t-shirts, figurines, plushies, cosplay – it all adds up.

As of May 2016, the Pokémon media franchise has grossed revenues of ¥4.8 trillion worldwide – that’s about $46.2 billion dollars.

It’s worth mentioning that they have also only released the original first generation of Pokémon, and with five more generations yet to grace our screens, “gotta catch ‘em all” is the phrase that’s firmly engraved in trainers’ hearts.

Indeed, because of this previous popularity, Pokémon GO has an advantage over its sister game Ingress (also developed by the same company) which also uses augmented reality.

Sure, the mentions in the news are bound to go down and local businesses will cease to put clever signs outside their buildings, but with an already loyal fan base of nostalgia seekers, I still reckon its lasting impact will be immense.

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Pokémon GO

This post was inspired by Tara Povey from the Where is Tara? blog. She wrote a piece on Pokémon Go Changing the Face of TravelYou can connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat.

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