KEEPING A FAD AROUND

Hello everyone,

 

How’s everyone doing today? We’ve managed to make it through to another Wednesday and get to turn the corner toward the weekend now! All this Pokemon Go! talk is still blowing up my Facebook feed, as I am sure it is with all of you as well. Maybe not. It’s hard to say for sure. Today I wanted to talk about fads a little bit, in the context of Pokemon Go!

But Cassady! We’re sick of hearing about Pokemon! Too bad it’s my blog. Anyways, fads are something that often come and go. Seriously. I can name a ton. Beenie Babies are the most well known that I can think of, but moonshoes, various movies, the Friday song, and now Pokemon Go! are all fads. The “problem” with fads is that they pass. And certainly, everyone remembers them—I don’t know if I have met anyone who existed in the era of the Beenie Baby that doesn’t know what they are. Yet they simply don’t exist anymore.

The one major exception to this rule that I can think of is competitive card games—really any form of gaming in which there are few substitutes and it regularly changes. You can read about this a bit here, but the most well known example of a fad from the 90’s that has persisted throughout good and bad times is Magic: the Gathering. Effectively, what Magic did was create a system to keep players into the game called a rotation—which basically means that there are certain points where cards are no longer tournament legal. In doing this, it forces more players to buy the new cards, and rewards them for doing so by allowing them to play in tournaments more. New cards, of course, are also a reward to people because they are simply that: new.

They then coupled this with a competitive scene in order to make a goal for players. Professional Magicians, as it were, not only became popular within their community, but also were effectively being paid to play this game. Ok, so before I sound like a total nerd, I just wanted to preface this with an example of success, and then relate it to how to apply it elsewhere. Other examples that I can think of that are similar to this are League of Legends, though it is unclear if any game will have the same kind of staying power (Magic is over 20 years old at this point).

So to apply this to Pokemon Go!, there needs to be more competition and more rewards. Currently, to my knowledge, there are no leaderboards, and there are no real rewards for it. Certainly, Pokemon is a successful chain, but unless Nintendo want to reinvent the wheel every couple years for their iOS game (like they have for their video games), they should consider finding a way to make the game something that people feel rewarded for playing in more than just an emotional way. Have their be a real life Elite Four and Champion that are paid. Have people that can schedule challenges. Make it a thing that a very lower percentage of players can do, but that everyone feels like they can achieve if they work hard enough. Whether that mean more bike rides or not. That’s the key to succeeding as more than just a fad.

OTHERING ON THE GO

Hello everyone,

 

Today I wanted to talk about othering, specifically because of Pokemon Go!. In Pokemon Go!, there are “teams” that you can select: Team Mystic, Team Valor, and Team Instinct, which are all supposed to represent different sets of values. Now, I’m up in the air as to whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to have added these teams to the game, since the game makes players pick a team and thereby identify with that team, but it is a thing nonetheless.

So lets talk about some of the pros of making these teams. By forcing players to pick a team, they cause players to identify with something. This is good because it creates a sense of camaraderie and community within the greater Pokemon Go! scene. Which creates a bridge for players to communicate between one another and bond. In turn, this can lead to friendships that transcend the borders of our communities. Seriously, I was recently added to a small Pokemon Go! Facebook group that already has a few hundred members. It can also make for fun sporting rivalry between the three teams. This also allows for people looking to use Pokemon Go! as a common identification method more ability to divide players—for example, lets say there is a store looking to add competition between players as well as make teams. Isn’t it super easy to simply have them split into different Pokemon Go! teams? Not only will it be a fun contemporary term, but it also will make the connection between teams instant and strong, rather than awkward and fleeting.

Ok, so the good aside, here is the problem with making teams like this. There is no regulation, which means that on Facebook and so on, some of these playful feuds and sporting rivalries will escalate into full blown discrimination. In that group I mentioned above, Team Instinct is being picked on as the lesser of the three teams already. Which is a scary proposition for a game that released less than a full week ago. How far will it escalate? Can we expect to see gang-like activity from these crowds? The othering that occurs as a result of splitting the game into teams creates a strange duality in which this game that was popularized through nerd culture has created cliques of “good” and “bad” within the community.

So what’s the best thing to do about this? Well for now, nothing. I don’t have the answers, and the reality is that there is a non-zero chance that this game won’t just die out quickly if the other issues of the game (incomplete worldwide release, lack of certain desired game modes, etc) are left unfixed. Additionally, the extreme aspects of othering within Pokemon Go! are not entirely mean spirited yet. There is a good chance that they won’t evolve into worst territories. However, if things do get worse, it is important to have a plan of attack. Which is simple—eliminate the teams. Seriously. Teams are cool and all, but why not leave the clique making to actual small groups of friends? They’ll get together to play still—heck I know groups of people going for bike rides and everything. Anyways, let me know what your ideas are on the subject. Have a great day!