Remember the summer everyone played Pokémon Go? The world seemed a nicer place, for a while. People would stop to point out Jigglypuff to strangers on street corners, then run together with others across a park for a Dragonite. I've heard genuine nostalgia for this time; a thought things might feel a little brighter if everyone still played, the world just a bit better than what we've got today.
But that old world still exists. Of course it does. That feeling from 2016 - yes, the halcyon summer of all the way back three years ago - is still out there, even if it might seem a little harder to find. Positive interactions with others because of the games we share continue to take place all around us, regardless of how things sometimes seem. And that feeling is only amplified when these interactions take place in real life - something Pokémon Go continues to excel at.
Whether asking you to meet up to tackle tough Pokémon battles, or encouraging the sharing of local knowledge when a rare quest or creature pop ups nearby, Pokémon Go is built to foster a community amongst its players. And for those who aren't of the age they should be hanging around in Discord or Facebook groups with strangers, there's the more passive feeling of being part of a community when walking around a park on a Community Day alongside friends or family, where you feel inescapably part of something else.
From friends lists which show what others are up to, virtual postcards with gifts from places you've visited, and trading to allow you to help others fill their Pokédex, the game has grown its multiplayer feature set considerably over time. And while its most recent addition is high-level content for solo play, next year will bring full support and in-game leagues for its growing multiplayer battling scene, and - even more up my street - an AR mode where you can simply hang out and feed you and your friend's favourite creatures. There's plenty of life in Pokémon Go yet.
This weekend I was walking into town - the long way, as usual. I passed a Pokémon gym currently under attack from a rival team and noticed a group of Chinese students on their phones, obviously playing Pokémon Go together. I stopped, reversed a few paces, held up my phone to show I was playing too. We laughed, and they held out their hands to high five. And that was it - we high-fived. But it meant: you're someone doing the same thing I am, out playing this game. We're on rival teams, but we're alike, you and I. And I am genuinely thankful Pokémon Go exists to spark these interactions - we need them now more than ever.
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