ENRICO PALISOC – Toronto
Canada is the 35th country to get Pokémon Go but was no slouch at getting in on the pokéhunt (disclaimer: there will be a lot of poké in this article so if that makes you poké-annoyed, we ask for your poké-patience) by downloading the APK or faking their IOS account en masse in order to play this long-awaited game (including me).
On Sunday July 17, Pokémon Go was officially released in Canada on both IOS and Android phones. The next day, trainers from every corner of the Greater Toronto Area gathered at its most recognizable landmark – the CN tower. There, I witnessed one of the most interesting things this game has brought about in people.
This unofficial gathering organized by Legacy Gamers drew what looked like a pre-2014 regular season Blue Jays crowd. Which is plenty, considering the game is not even a month old. It’s surprising because despite not having a sure date as to when they were supposed to gather because of Niantic’s (the developers of Pokémon Go) inability to communicate when they would release the game in each region, people were still able to gather in an orderly fashion around the CN tower. They dropped lures and teams battled it out for the landmark’s supremacy (Valor seemed to have the upper hand during my time there). They even had a super cute Pikachu mascot walking around and a talented violinist playing the Pokémon theme (and other videogame and TV themes) throughout the night.
I realized then that this is what Nintendo has always been aiming for with Pokémon. It wasn’t just the truckloads of cash that they’ll be getting from this, but the people they bring together to enjoy what they have created. Parents walking around with their children getting excited when one of them catches a rare Pokémon and super nerdy looking kids working with the ‘popular’ looking ones, sharing knowledge on how to maximize the combat power of their Pokémon.
Think about it. Nintendo has improved the way players interact with each other for each iteration of the game released, from using a link cable to trade and battle other players, to now having large people gather in spots or meet randomly in the streets to catch Pokémon and battle each other. As this game grows and new updates come in (hopefully more in line with the original trailer they had for the game), Pokémon will keep denying those that have been calling it a fad since 1996 because of the one game mechanic that has kept it going for 20 years and will keep it going for another 20 after that: the ability to bring people together.
Enrico and his cat, Oswin, are always looking for new games to play when not worrying about the Red Sox season. A former Montreal resident, he now lives in Toronto eating all their korean bbq.