Gotta catch ‘em all: Pokémon Go’s deserved comeback

November 15, 2023 — by Andy Zhu
Graphic by Amy Luo
Veteran and new players both display their love for Pokemon Go (rightfully so).
After many years of being forgotten, Pokémon Go is finally regaining the acknowledgment it deserves.

At the age of 6, my dream was to be like the iconic Pokémon trainer Ash Ketchum and have my own Charizard, a fire-breathing dragon. For many people like me, Pokémon was a foundational part of childhood — who didn’t grow up obsessing over showdowns between the cute but absurdly powerful creatures?

So, when the Pokémon Go app first came out in 2016, allowing users to “catch” Pokémon that appeared based on their real-world location, it was an immediate hit. Through GPS tracking on mobile devices, the game allows players to walk around in real life in search of rare Pokémon that they can add to their collection. Players can also train their virtual Pokémon and battle other players.

 As a fourth grader when the game was released, I remember thinking how badly I wanted to play this game. Instead of having to vicariously live out my dreams of being a Pokémon trainer through Ash, the opportunity to experience this fantasy world was finally in the palm of my hands. 

Once I downloaded the app, I was hooked. I logged in every day to see what Pokémon would spawn close to me, praying for legendary birds or other rare catches. To my dismay, I was never blessed with any fortune, leaving me with only Pidgeys and Rattatas nearby. 

For those who don’t know Pokémon well, Pidgeys are literally just pigeons, and rattatas are rats. I know.

Maybe the reason why I never caught any strong, fully evolved Pokémon was that my restricted area of movement limited my chances of obtaining better ones — no, my mom would never let me run across the neighborhood exploring other peoples’ backyards like true Pokémon Go fanatics would. It was hard for us youngsters to fully immerse ourselves into the game, as we lacked the freedom to walk wherever we wanted and rare Pokemon never showed up at home or school. 

Admittedly, my routine of just opening the game soon got repetitive, and I stopped obsessively checking the app for cool Pokémon. The game slowly faded out of my mind, as I opened it less and less … until the pandemic came around. During lockdown, a surge of boredom struck me and I suddenly felt nostalgia for my elementary school days. 

So obviously, the solution was to rewatch the entirety of every  Pokémon show! Yes, I binged all eight generations and 25 seasons (before generations nine and ten were produced) of the show. Reliving the glory days when Ash humiliated Team Rocket time and time again fired up my passion for Pokémon, inspiring me to pick up playing the wonderful game of Pokémon Go. 

It’s not just me who got hooked again. Recently, I’ve noticed an influx of returning Pokémon Go players — cultured people who have also been enlightened by the greatness of the game. When I hear someone talking about anything Pokémon-related, my eyes light up and I develop subconscious respect towards that individual. It warms my heart every time I see two players doing the famous phone swap, checking out each other’s Pokémon to see what their Pokédex (index of Pokémon obtained) looks like and which Pokémon they are willing to trade. 

It’s clear that many seniors have found a new appreciation for this game, as I’ve seen groups of students go off campus during lunch to hunt Pokémon and battle in raids. Group experiences like these provide an essential break for the stresses of senior year. In my humble opinion, passionately hounding down a shadow Mewtwo is the perfect way for hard-working students to take their minds off of school. 

The nostalgia students experience from revisiting this game provides a sense of community and belonging — something that feels like we have slowly lost over time, especially now that we have grown older.

Over the years, I’ve felt more and more that Pokémon has been losing the respect it deserves, so seeing this new trend is very rewarding as a veteran Pokémon lover. There’s no shame in being a wannabe Ash Ketchum. These pocket monsters are more than just a fad — they deserve all the love and popularity in the world.

If you’re reading this right now, please, give Pokémon Go a shot. And if you already have, give it another one. If I just reminded you of the glorious days of trading Pokémon cards with friends and bonding over your dreams of catching a fully evolved Dragonite, why don’t you start playing Pokemon Go again and rejoin the community? 

I promise you, this game is so fun that it’ll take your mind off of anything else; speaking of which, I have it open right now while writing this, with a wild 2277 CP Espeon I have to go catch.

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