Is that a pikachu at the pyramids? Why is squirtle walking around Tahrir Square?
Stray cats and dogs are no longer the only creatures prowling the streets of Egypt. There is a new breed of creatures taking over this summer: Pokémon.
Yes, while sitting in traffic on 6 October Bridge on your way to work you might be able to snag a charmander. Or you can take a quick walk to a park, statue, or significant landmark to your local Pokémon shop and refill on some Pokéballs.
Over the weekend, the world caught Pokémon fever. People of all ages are wandering the streets looking for the next creature to catch with the hope of catching as many as they can. With phone in hand and extended arm, users walk gingerly so as not to miss the chance to catch any Pokémon that may appear. The concept of smartphone zombies is taking on a new meaning with the launch of the latest craze Pokémon Go.
aPokémon Go is a new mobile game that morphs reality with imaginary characters from the popular Pokémon franchise. The top-rated game was launched less than a week ago, and, despite only being available in certain markets, it has rapidly become an international obsession among different age groups, with Egypt also making its mark on the map.
The game integrates characters and themes from the Pokémon franchise of the 2000s that included video games, cartoon series, movies, and toys. The franchise developed throughout the last two decades, with video games and paper card games in which players could collect cards and battle with each other. The cartoon series stirred major buzz back in the day, and, while such crazes usually fade into pop culture oblivion, it seems Pokémon is getting another chance at fame.
In Pokémon Go, players get to chase Pokémon and battle each other using their captured creatures.
The mobile application merges the mobile phone camera with the GPS system in order to display virtual images overlapping the physical setting of the player. The GPS allows the app to lead the player to various nearby destinations to catch Pokémon or fight in Pokémon gyms. The main trick is tracking and following the Pokémon throughout an area to capture as many as possible.
One positive element of this new craze is that gamers are required to leave their homes and chase the virtual Pokémon throughout real streets and neighbourhoods, something that is needed compared to other games that tend to isolate people in front of their computers or phones. Accordingly, the developers have announced that the game does not count driven miles; instead, the virtual miles are only counted based on walked distances.
With that said, this virtual adventure has already caused a few incidents that made their way into international news. A massive car accident occurred in Japan when one player stopped in the middle the street while playing the game in order to catch a Pokémon. In the US, a couple of players tried to get into a police station in pursuit of Pokémon. The police have since released a number of press releases in an attempt to persuade gamers not to follow Pokémon into stations.
Although the game has not been officially launched in Egypt, the tech-savvy have managed to download the game onto their phones, and many marketing companies have already started capitalising on the grossing application.
The developing company has already profited more than $5bn in the stock market since launching the application.
As for all related hashtags, it is safe to claim that they have been clearly dominating social media platforms. From memes to jokes and expert tips, the world seems to have forgotten about the recent Game of Thrones craze that took over the world only a week earlier and have moved on to this newest mobile game.