It’s no surprise that Pokémon GO has been responsible for a lot of trends over the past year; People are actually leaving their houses, for one thing. Pokémon has become more of a universal trend, as we now see grandmas playing the app with their grand kids. It has even spawned a bevy of internet memes and some questionable life choices.
However, one trend that seems to have slipped by most people is the revival of gaming rumours and speculation brought about by the Pokémon Go app. You see, back in the day, the world of gaming was abuzz with “secret tips” you would hear from your babysitter’s boyfriend’s brother’s uncle who works at Nintendo. These included things like the unlockable street fighter 2 character Sheng Long or the secret way to find Mew in Pokémon Red if you followed a complex set of specific inputs in your game. Needless to say, these trends went the way of the dodo (or more aptly, fat pikachu) with the internet age. Today, gaming rumours last just long enough for our collective online conscious figure out that “leaked” screenshot is photoshopped, and once the game has been released, we can generally assume any major secrets will be revealed through youtube and tumblr well before we even reach the end of the game. To put it simply, the mystique is gone. There are no secrets in video games today that can’t be proved or disproved by the internet.
Or at least, that’s what we all thought. Then Pokémon GO made its appearance in July of 2016, and everything we knew about gaming rumours was blown away seemingly overnight. Rumours abounded about how to find Ditto, how nicknames could make eevee evolve in a certain way (that one was true, by the way), and how pikachu could be found more easily in thunderstorms. Players claimed they had found Articuno, that certain unlikely biomes made certain Pokémon more likely to appear and that regional exclusives could be hatched from eggs. More recently, we have tales of Pink Butterfree being catchable, aloung with data-mining claims that gen 3 will bring Pokémon whose CPs ore than double our current Pokémon’s levels. The point is nobody has the slightest clue what’s going on, and speculation is spreading like wildfire.
So, how did we get here? How did our collective online conscious fail to weed out the real from the fake? In part, I believe the issue stems from Pokémon GO’s positively massive player-base. With approximately 60 million players on the app monthly, that’s a lot of traffic to filter through. Convincing photoshop jobs and tall tales most likely draw in numerous copycats, and the internet becomes a mess of half-truths that can not be completely dispelled. After all, it’s nearly impossible to prove a negative.
The other reason why I believe Pokémon GO spreads rumours like a Grimer spreads sludge is because of the very nature of the game itself. Pokémon GO is a physical game. It often causes people to meet and commute in real life, as opposed to a virtual setting. This causes word of mouth, not digital text, to be the main form of communication between players, which could very easily cause miscommunications in a massive, Pokémon-themed game of telephone. In short, face to face communication is a terrible way to record information, and it shows with the confusing nature of Pokémon GO speculation.
Pokémon GO is a massive game, in more ways than one. This large scale is probably responsible for most of the rumours we’ve seen thus far. It really fascinates me to see us all running around, discussing things that nobody seems to be able to back up but that we all none the less believe as truth. It’s like Pokémon GO has brought us back to that tender moment in our chilhoods, sitting around playing Pokémon Red for the first time and speculating on how to catch Mew or what MissingNo. really is. It’s really kind of magical. If you happen to be younger than 20, step back and just breathe in the moment. You probably never got to experience that internet-less age of confusion that was so unique, and this is your chance to see it firsthand. Nobody seems sure of what is fact and what is fiction. Anything could be real. Pikablue could very well be on the way (sorry, Gen-wunner joke). Seriously though, embrace the chaos. Who knows when we’ll get this opportunity again.