Niantic, the company behind Pokemon Go, has released a new AR technology so impressive that it would even get Professor Oak to stop hitting on Ash's mom for a moment and take notice. It's called "reality blending," and according to the company, "Pokemon will be able to hide behind a real object or be occluded by a tree or table blocking its path, just like a Pokemon would appear in the physical world." You can take a look below.
Hooray! We're one step closer to the ultimate goal of dating our Hitmontop. But as cool as it is to see Pikachu and Eevee skirt around a potted plant, jacked up on amphetamines as is the Pokemon way (the series has gotten pretty dark since you were a kid), you have to admit that this couldn't be worse timing for Niantic. Pokemon Go is not suited to pandemic life. Yes, there are plenty of people who don't seem bothered by getting shit-faced on a crowded beach. Still, for the most part, nobody wants to get sick, and catching that totally crunked Pikachu in the clip above only seems possible by spitting a COVID-19 infected loogie on the six-feet-apart guidelines.
It's a shame because I look at those two couple months when Pokemon GO was first released as the apex of human history. I mean it. I remember the sidewalks crowded with people, young and old, trying to catch Pokemon, unshackled by the inhibitions of lacking a common interest. We all had a common interest: To catch that goddamn Dragonite. Total strangers would strike up conversations, looking to trade tips, and friendships would form. I spoke to neighbors I didn't even know I had for the first time. There was a sense of community you can only get by collectively being invested in a stupid thing.
Now that thing is Animal Crossing, and it is essentially the Anti-Pokemon Go. If Pokemon GO was meth -- manic and wild -- then Animal Crossing is Ambien. It's a game that requires you to grind, albeit a relaxing grind, and keeps you confined to your home. There is a social aspect, as you can visit your friends' islands, but even then the very nature of the landmass you inhabit, an island, tells you everything you need to know about our current era. Perhaps the glory days of Pokemon Go will one day make a comeback, but now, amidst a life-threatening plague and a panicked populace, doesn't feel like that moment.
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Top Image: Niantic/The Pokemon Company