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Pokémon Go and the Kindness of Strangers

"One night early in my Pokémon journey, I spotted about twenty young adults gathered, phones in hand, around an equestrian statue in Tompkins Square Park. Apparently there were a lot of uncommon Pokémon in the area. I opened up the app: The park was indeed hopping with imaginary creatures. I tried to catch one (a Doduo) while the most outgoing member of this impromptu group of Pokémon trainers showed me a video on his phone: the highly-ambitious concept trailer for the game. “I get goosebumps at this part,” he said of the climactic moment in the trailer, a massive collaborative battle in Times Square where hundreds of players work together to capture the most powerful Pokémon of them all, Mewtwo. So far, the app as released has no mechanism for such large-scale events. But we can dream.

Back in Tompkins Square, the gaggle of Pokémon players made their way en masse to another sculpture: Someone had spotted the uncommon Pokémon Eevee, and everyone wanted a chance to catch it. My new friend, who showed me the trailer, mused out loud, “Maybe we’re part of a movement, guys. Maybe this is how the world changes: through Pokémon.” There were some chuckles. Perhaps all inchoate movements at first inspire laughter. Then the spokesman confessed: His phone was out of charge and he had to head home. “What type of charger do you need?” asked a young woman, and she offered a cord snaking from the portable charger in her purse. “Look at this world!” he said, wonderingly, as he plugged in."

Pokémon Go

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