New App Could Return Us To That Golden Summer Everyone Played 'Pokémon GO'
Remember the summer of 2016? No one knew what COVID was. TikTok wouldn’t release until September. Obama was still in the White House. Golden Age thinking is a well studied phenomenon; we tend to see times gone by through very rosy glasses. But in this case, summer 2016 really was a glorious time, because on July 6th, Pokémon GO became available for download. Thousands of players around the globe spent that summer answering one of the greatest callings in video games: catching them all. It was thrilling seeing clumps of people gathering around a cool mural or fountain or town square, people who had been strangers a few moments before, but were now trainers, united by a singular purpose. Now Pokémon GO publisher Niantic is trying to bring back that magic with their new social gaming app Campfire.
Campfire aims to connect Pokémon GO and Ingress players more easily, making it simple and fun for people nearby to find each other and rekindle that same energy that electrified all of us like a thundershock that wonderful summer of 2016. Ingress is a lesser known mobile freemium game from Niantic. But it uses the same premise: in-game events happen around real world landmarks. Campfire will be released to all Niantic players soon, with Pokémon GO players getting access in waves throughout this summer.
Players will be able to see events like raids and trade meet-ups happening around them, DM other players, curate a friends list, and schedule coordinated times to connect with other users. RSVPing to your weekly raid sounds like a great, relaxed way to foster community connections. Especially when that community is not as strong as it once was. Like a Charmander left out in the rain, the flame of Pokémon GO has been dimming. Despite player outcry, many of the quality of life changes players lauded during quarantine haven’t stuck around. Will this be able to ignite the community once again? Perhaps even see it grow stronger? Is Campfire the elemental stone which will trigger the game’s next evolution?
Maybe! It’s an interesting premise in a time when strangers can feel more like a threat than a friend you haven’t met yet. But isn’t that what we need now more than ever? Something to bring us together?