(Written by Serge Gabriel; Art by Israel Babadilla)

Pokémon in real life—that was what greeted trainers from all over the Philippines last August 2016 when the much awaited, augmented reality app Pokémon GO was released. Once downloaded, trainers took to the streets, caught Pokémon, swiped Pokéstops for items, and fought in gyms. And, to no surprise for the social media capital of the world, it trended everywhere.

Trainer’s dream come true

Pokémon first made an appearance in the Philippines towards the end of the 90s and what a time it was to grow up. Trading Pokémon cards, playing the Blue or Red versions on the GameBoy, and singing “I want to be the very best that no one ever was” every Friday night were a few of the things that made up the craze back then. And now, with the release of Pokémon GO, trainers find themselves being reunited with the first 151 they journeyed with. But this time, in a colorful, very real world—ours. And everyone is excited about it.

Walk with me

Beyond the nostalgia and visual experience Pokémon GO brings, what makes it even more popular is the brilliant design of its gameplay. It tracks player movement via GPS. Meaning you won’t get your avatar anywhere just sitting around—you need to be on the move. Sure, Pokémon can appear while you’re stationary, but walking around increases encounter rates significantly. Plus, it’s the only way you can legally visit Pokéstops and hatch eggs—or meet people.

Pokémon GO may be a single player game, but it provides a social experience like no other. Trainers scouring the streets for Pokémon exchange knowing glances, those taking on gyms band together, and those who’ve found rare Pokémon proclaim the good news and start a stampede. Many things have blossomed from this collective love for Pokémon—strangers-turned-friends, friends-turned-rivals, and even business and tourism opportunities. These are the things that make Pokémon GO a win-win for everyone.

To be continued

While the past few weeks have certainly been exciting, Pokémon GO continues to show promise and potential both as a game for consumers and a driver of revenue for business establishments and game developers. As a country of trainers eagerly awaits its next set of updates, they kill time in the most fun way they can, by playing Pokémon GO.