Wait, you say, people still play Pokemon Go? Yes, yes they do, and twenty thousand of those people bought tickets to turn up in downtown Chicago this past Saturday to play it together. The results were interesting, and I can honestly say I’m glad we traveled such a long way (twenty minutes driving) for the chance to attend something pretty cool: the first global festival centered around an augmented reality video game.
That said, one of the coolest bits was after the festival, when raids for “legendary” Pokemon were released all across the city, and crowds gathered everywhere to battle them. The above shot is from the Aon center about 45 minutes after the festival ended.
Lessons learned from one long, hot day
- People really enjoy a good, angry crowd chant. Let’s start with what everyone’s been talking about: Go Fest was a huge catastrophe for Niantic, the gaming company behind Pokemon Go. Apparently no one adequately prepared for the amount of cell bandwidth that would be in use when 20,000 people in Grant Park tried to get on to the same app at the same time. Signal was terrible, tons of people barely managed to log in, and crashing was the common experience. For most of the day it was difficult to actually play the game. The result? “WE CAN’T PLAY” chanted ad nauseam during the announcements at one point.
- Taking a break is an excellent way to enjoy the whole thing more. Leaving an event like this for a good hour and a half to get lunch outside the grounds and reapply sunscreen was one of our best moves. It helped that, in response to the general unrest over problems playing the game, Niantic had just extended the radius for special spawns by 2 miles. In plain English, this means we got to leave the fest and still enjoy the fest benefits.
- Don’t Fest Alone. Seriously. Once Isaac and I realized it was unlikely we weren’t going to be getting much gameplay, we had to decide that we were going to have a good day anyway. I did sympathize with anyone who attended alone and didn’t have someone else to entertain them all day (and wasn’t extroverted enough to want to make friends out of a bunch of strangers), but maybe they learned this lessons too — just the hard way.
- Meet people, maybe? If I sound unsure, it’s because I was. But apparently meeting people just involves there not being enough picnic tables for everyone who wants one, with a dash of sharing. Even a kindergartner could do it. Or, more impressively, me.
- If you buy tickets to an after party, don’t forget to realize it means socializing with even more strangers.