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Chicago

After a Week, Pokémon Go Is Changing the Way People Think, Feel and Live — Maybe Someday It Will Change the World

Leo Burnett Senior Creative Strategist Tom Benjamin Hord weighs in on the latest viral phenomenon

You might have looked around this weekend and thought: “Surge Cola is back, Blink-182 has a new album and everyone is playing Pokémon. What year is it?!” I, on the other hand, am fascinated by what one of these three nouveau-retro phenomena is doing to transform digital culture and human behavior, and you should be too.

Pokémon Go (click the link to a primer for the uninitiated) picks up where the classic Game Boy games ended for many of us, but it’s brought the franchise to a new medium with a vengeance. Put simply, it uses your phone’s GPS to detect where you are in the world, then populates Pokémon around you in real time using Augmented Reality. You can catch and train a new feathery, fuzzy or scaly friend in your bathroom, on a walk to lunch or right on top of the conference table in your next status meeting. And just in case that didn’t sway you, it’s based on the idea that questing for Pokémon might just be a great way to get your 10,000 steps of exercise in every day.

Pokemon Go Map

At Leo Burnett, we evaluate ideas on a 10-point scale reflecting their impact on humanity, called the HumanKind scale:

Seven is an inspiring idea, beautifully crafted.
Eight is an idea that changes the way people think and feel.
Nine is an idea that changes the way people live.
Ten is one that changes the world.

Although development and promotion of the game itself wasn’t handled by Leo Burnett, consider that:

Pokémon Go is changing the way people think and feel.
From incenting unlikely millennials to play like toddlers in parks to persuading introverts to run around in herds and talk to strangers, the game is breaking down barriers and bringing together all sorts of people who share a common love for all things Pokémon. The ability of technology to mediate and soften our hesitancy to open up to others, even in the most unexpected of situations, is already apparent in Pokémon Go, and it’s barely been a week.

Pokémon Go is changing how people live—with Augmented Reality.
The gameplay itself is a portent of what’s to come, particularly the impact that AR will have on entertainment in your daily life. Open up the app and look at how your neighborhood has been Poké-fied; landmarks you didn’t even know were there are part of the game (and can be useful in your quest!). There’s even a helpful fountain in the lobby of Leo Burnett!

And, no sweat, it’s added a cool $7.5 billion to Nintendo’s market share.
This gaming movement already has an estimated 7.5 million U.S. downloads to date and an estimated $1.6 million in daily revenue, and is rapidly becoming more popular than both Tinder and Twitter. The game’s on fire, and that’s not just if you pick Charmander as your starting Pokémon. It may not have changed the world yet, but it’s only been a week.

Pokemon Go Eevee

So hop on your respective app store and check it out — you won’t be disappointed. Get out there by yourself, with friends, with your kids and get some exercise while grabbing those little critters.

Just get out of my way if I’m trying to snag that Eevee down in the lobby.

Tom Benjamin Hord is a senior creative strategist at Leo Burnett. Connect with him on Twitter or Medium @hordlove.