When an Idea Works Well or, I Just Really Want to Talk About Pokemon Again


I have to say, I’ve never been more excited to hear my phone vibrate since I first started texting girls on my Nokia 3315 back in high school. Back then, I never thought texting girls would be something I’d ever do because I was so geeky; it was exciting times.

Something else I never thought would happen would be my dream as an eight year-old to go on my very own journey to catch Pokemon. But hey, July 2016 Niantic came through for me and millions of people around the world. The wish made again and again over the last 20 years has finally come true.

By now anyone not living under a rock or in a retirement village has heard of the release of Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game based on the immensely successful Pokemon franchise. And it’s not even remotely new to suggest the game as made the world absolutely shit itself with excitement. Suffice to say Nintendo have absolutely cracked it.

But how exactly has this happened? I mean, other than your dad’s response of ‘the world’s lost its bloody mind’. By simple explanation it’s an idea that just works. However, I got off my ass and looked deeper into it. I explored the five characteristics of a good idea (with a little help from the folk at 99U) and found exactly why Pokemon Go is taking over my life and the lives of nearly everybody.

Relative Advantage

The degree to which an idea is perceived as better than the existing standard; an improvement over the previous generation.


Up until now, we’d lived the Pokemon dream through Ash’s adventures on the television show and generation after generation of RPG games. Now it’s real, or the closest we’ve ever had to it. We get to move around in actual space in our actual cities and have augmented reality encounters. It also inspires real effort (walking to hatch eggs) and real interaction (team effort to take over gyms and the planned ability to trade).


The ease of how one can use their past experience to understand how this new idea works.


For now (?) Pokemon Go primarily revolves around the core of the franchise, catching Pokemon with Pokeballs. It’s also based on the First Generation (the best generation), which contains the most widely recognised creatures and triggers that sweet, sweet nostalgia with the fans deep into their thirties.


The ease of which people can understand the new idea.


The concept of the game is based on that familiar mechanic: throw balls at these LSD-inspired animals until they’re encapsulated, then duke it out with other monsters in arena-style combat that would be highly illegal and aggressively picketed by PETA if it were real. The big relief for many is leveling up is easier: catching more Pokemon gives you candies; candies power up and evolve Pokemon. This is way easier and walking to and fro in the tall grass for hours, battling level 5 Pidgeys just to get my Squirtle to level 15 to finally learn Water Gun.


The effortlessness of interacting with the new concept by the target audience.


The app’s free to use and slowly being rolled out into more countries. The user interface is simple and basic instruction is available in the menu. Those who are experienced Pokefans caught on instantly. For those outside the demographic, today I spoke to a woman in her fifties at lunchtime who was new to the game and using her lunch period to visit Pokestops and catch Pokemon so she could get to level five and finally start battling in the gyms. It seemed like she’d caught on fast.


The noticeable results of trying and consuming the idea.


The global media stories are endless: people out walking more than ever, organised events to meet and play, stampedes in Central Park, a bloke quitting his job to undertake his Pokemon journey full-time, toppling Candy Crush as the biggest app EVER and even holding its own against Tinder by hooking up Pokemon lovers.

The conversations around Pokemon Go are constant. A lot of nay-sayers speculate the fizzling out of this craze soon. These are five reasons they’re wrong; five signs of the planets aligning for this idea. The reality is we’ve entered a whole new level; a whole new world of possibilities for the Pokemon movement and it’ll only get bigger.

For fans, gamers, techies and even geeks, it’s going to be exciting times.

By Dan on July 25, 2016
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