As you have probably noticed, Pokemon Go has been the topic of conversation on all social media channels, from hilarious memes to epic posts about insane captures and sightings. But one unexpected thing to come out of the overly popular mobile game is socialization. And having played Pokemon Go the last couple of days has caused me to be the most social than I've been since college.
Hardcore video games get a bad reputation for being excuses to shy away into the darkness of dorm rooms huddled in front of a big, fancy PC. Take World Of Warcraft for example; the big joke at my college was some people's rooms reeked like pizza and soda because they never wanted to leave their computer away from the game. And sometimes even Pokemon games get this bad reputation, with kids' noses buried in their 3DS'.
But Pokemon Go has established a different kind of gaming experience, and it may be one of the most positive I've seen in a long time. Not only does it get players out of the house and outside playing in the fresh air, but it's surprisingly social.
Several times now I've been walking down the street, stopping every now and then to capture a Pokemon, and someone will walk by and say, "You playing Go?" and then we get to discussing what we've found and where, and what levels our Pokemon are. With this kind of socialization, it immediately connects me to a stranger, someone I would otherwise pass on the street and never even think twice about it.
I found myself looking for the signs; the signs of someone playing Pokemon Go in public. One very obvious sign is a pattern of walking while staring at your phone and stopping to flick your finger. This is someone who's spotted a Pokemon and is flicking their finger to toss the Pokeball at it. This is usually grounds for saying hello or calling them out. Not everyone will want to talk back, but it's a nice way to know when to say hi. And what's great about this is there won't really be any awkward silences because you'll always have things to talk about: what Pokemon are near, incredible catches you've made, weird sightings, nearby Pokestops and more.
I have found then when I'm out walking around by myself and I see someone else playing, I'll try and make an effort to say hello and ask if they're playing. They'll usually immediately feel a huge appreciation towards you as a person. I've never experienced a game like this before that had me walking up to people on the street, nor have I ever felt the need to want to interact with other people like this. But now I look forward to seeing someone else play, and who knows, maybe you'll make a bestie out of it.