Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game which launched in 2016. It became huge in it’s first year, but many people said it would just be a fad and it wouldn’t last more than maybe a couple of years. Four years on, however, and the game is thriving.

Most people have come across the world of Pokémon in one form or another, since it started back in 1995 on the Game Boy. This soon expanded into a physical game which involves collecting pokemon cards and battling your friends, and also anime and manga series. In recent years there has also been a live action Detective Pikachu film starring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu. And obviously, like any other behemoth franchise there is more merchandise and spin-off properties than you shake a Squirtle at.

But the AR game Pokémon Go was perhaps an interesting experiment. And one that some people thought wouldn’t last. Here are some reasons why the game has continued to thrive.

1. It Is Easy to Play 
The game is simple and easy to start; there are no complicated rules to use it. Sure you can enjoy getting into all the complexities of the Pokémon world if you want to but you don’t need to know all that stuff just to get started. All you need to play is a smartphone with a GPS and a camera, and these are things that most people are already familiar with. The basics of the game involves collecting Pokémon and trading them. All you have to do is walk outside, find Pokémon, and flick a Poké Ball to catch it, then repeat. 

2. Exercise and Social Interaction
One big complaint from people about video games is that it makes children stay inside and not get fresh air. This is obviously the same as television bu for some reason it doesn’t get as much negativity. But that’s another story. But with Pokémon Go you can’t stay indoors. You have to go out and walk around in the fresh air. It’s a fantastic way to get young and old alike to get out exercising. This also means that’s it a great way to interact with other people. Parents are taking their kids out, walking them and learning more about the wonderful world of Pokémon at the same time. Quality family time. What’s more, you also meet other people while you’re walking. It can become quite a social endeavour. The game also has different levels, and when players reach a certain level you can join teams. This can be a great way to start a conversation with others, particularly for people who could perhaps normally be quite shy.

3. Nostalgia
People who used to play Pokémon when they were young claim that what draws them to the game is nostalgia and a reminder of happy memories. Pokémon helps those who used to play in their childhood to relive those old feelings and make them feel good. Nostalgia is said to boost creativity, increase inspiration and optimism. Pokémon can remind people of the fun things they used to do while younger and the people they used to play with. It also keeps expanding this Pokémon universe and helps them enjoy new things with a new generation.

4. Variable Rewarding Strategy
Video games are said to produce a mood-boosting chemical as a reward. When you complete a level, you are hit with an endorphin rush when your brain recognizes the achievement. This is evident in Pokémon when players get a quest to catch Pokémon, and they go outside and catch them. When players are out chasing their characters, their brain gets hit with this chemical, which is a feel-good rush. The simple way to say all of that is that playing the game is fun and you get more rewards for the effort you put in and the more you walk. Once again this is a great way to exercise without knowing you’re putting in the work.

5. It Is Free and Fun
Pokémon Go is simple to play, and it is fun to play. It is a game where people go outside to do something fun together without spending cash. Rather being stuck in a virtual reality world, this game utilises an augmented reality layer to let you enjoy your full physical environment, but it adds magical creatures all around you to enhance that experience. It’s very inclusive.

There’s no doubt that Pokémon Go received a boost in usage due to the pandemic lockdown. People had more time on their hands and they had to go out for limited exercise. Pokémon Go was the perfect family escape, to explore their local areas and have fun. Nintendo even increased the radius circles for triggering Pokémon and Pokéstops so that people could practice social distancing more easily. This shows good awareness on the part of Nintendo and that they are continuing to invest in the platform.

Video games have a significant impact on our lives. Some even help in brain training and improve cognitive performance. Recent studies have also shown that they can be good for mental health in many ways. They help people with anxiety and depression. Nintendo have created many games that half lasted through multiple generations. I wonder if Pokémon Go will continue to thrive and will be something that future generations can enjoy.