Niren Bhavanani tells us why Pokemon Go is officially more popular than Tinder.
When I first slotted in my Pokemon Yellow version and fired up my Gameboy Color, I had no idea how awesomely addictive the game was going to be.
Of course this was 1998, Pokemon was at the peak of its popularity -- complete with an animated TV show, Tazos, trading cards and toys a plenty.
Even the yellow version I had thrown a tantrum for, was a modified version of the highly popular red and blue versions, complete with my own little Pikachu companion.
Which, in hindsight, was an excellent marketing ploy on the part of Nintendo to sell a carbon copy version of their game with superficial changes, at a higher price point to thousands of bespectacled and naïve 10 year olds like me.
At the time of course, I was blissfully unaware of the evils of advertising and the virtues of spending wisely. I had Pokemon Yellow, in glorious 15 bit colour mind you, I was the king of my castle; school yard bullies and pretty girls be damned!
Fast forward 17 years, I'm lounging at home in my boxers and surfing the inter-webs.
My Gameboy Color and Pokemon Yellow are but childhood memories, the Nintendo Wii U has failed spectacularly and the Pokemon brand is basically going through the motions.
I read about Nintendo's press conference, where the Late Satoru Iwata announces for the first time ever, the company would begin exploring mobile devices as a platform.
I pass it off as ubiquitous desperation and watch a cat video.
In September of 2015, Tsunekazu Ishihara, president of The Pokemon Company announces Pokemon Go in association with Niantic, a San Francisco based augmented reality game development company. I'm more concerned about the release date of Uncharted 4.
We are now in July 2016.
Pokemon Go has only been officially available for a couple of weeks in a few regions.
In this time, it has caused mass hysteria, broken App download records across the globe (Apple confirmed that the game had the most downloads in its first week of availability than any other app in history) and has catapulted Nintendo’s stock through the roof. I’m at home lounging in my boxers again, wondering how and when this happened.
In essence, Pokemon Go takes the experience to the next level.
By taking the addictive nature of the original game -- the constant hunting, leveling and searching and combining it with the best possible map of all -- the real world, Nintendo has provided a dream come true for a generation of fans, who would play hundreds of hours of the game, desperately hoping one day they could really own their own Pikachu or a fully levelled Charizard.
"You knew deep down inside it wasn't real," says Bhanushankar, a 19-year-old graphic designer, in reference to the original games.
Now an avid Pokemon Go player, he has over 150 Pokemon already caught here in India.
It still isn't really all that real, but it has certainly evolved into something a lot more tangible and fun.
"It's great for making people get out of the house," exclaims Khushboo, another 21-year-old graphic designer, clearly a fan of the mobile game.
In an age where we spend more time taking pictures of our food for likes and clicking selfies anywhere from the classroom to the toilet, I would agree, the social aspects of the game are a lot better than #This or #That.
Poke Stops, lures and organised Pokemon Go hunts (over 5,000 people showed up in Chicago recently for one of the biggest public gatherings yet and Mumbai had one too on July 23, and mind you, the game isn't even launched here yet) are massive social cues for people to meet in public areas to discuss, boast and even flirt over their Pokemons -- that's right -- Pokemon Go is officially more popular than Tinder.
Who would have thought two people from the opposite sex could have meaningful conversations outside of their daily left or right swipe?
There are many who believe this is only a fad and Pokemon Go will soon pass the public eye. Game designer Surojit Roy believes otherwise, "There is so much potential for it to continue the trend of bringing people together."
With rumours suggesting eventual updates for the introduction of battling your friends and trading abilities, Pokemon Go is poised to enable an unprecedented amount of digital social interaction in the coming months or even years.
Unfortunately, with every game changing idea come a few idiots. Idiots who, in their pursuit of Pokemon in the real world, have managed to ignore themselves, their families, their jobs, get hit by cars, trespass on private property, get shot at, fall off cliffs, lured into getting robbed and my personal favourite, get caught cheating on their girlfriends. The list of idiocy goes on and on.
Unfortunately, this only covers a minute fraction of the actual players, since stupidity sells, the media coverage on Pokeémon Go has been dominated by these tales.
Essentially calling into question the moral responsibility of Nintendo and Niantic.
I personally think there should be a disclaimer at the beginning of the game which reads: "Don't be a moron. Play responsibly." The actual response will, of course, be far politer.
Sure when I was a kid, my parents thought Pokemon was only for kids. Today, their opinion hasn't changed.
The only difference is that my generation and countless other kids who grew up on Pokemon still love it, thus, increasing the audience of Pokemon Go exponentially.
While I personally will be focused on my narcissism, there are countless others who are playing the game daily and with the India launch around the corner, the streets will soon be flooded with Pokemon.
Gotta catch 'em all right?
- How safe is it to play Pokemon in India?
- Looking for a job? Be a 'Pokemon Catcher'!
- 10 useful tips for Pokemon Go players
Lead photograph: Sam Mircovich/Reuters