When Niantic and the Pokémon Company started working on their AR project over six years ago, they probably had a set of reasonable expectations. They would have hoped to bring AR gaming to the world, which they did; they probably anticipated a resurgence in the interest surrounding Pikachu and the gang, which we know happened; but what they might not have known at the time was that in some cases, they were playing cupid.
You see, Pokémon Go has become a surprising matchmaker in its six short years, and not content with stopping there, Niantic’s app has brought couples closer together, taken great friends on epic adventures, and above all else, reminded us what it is to be part of a community. So, we thought we’d look for some of those success stories and the lives that they’ve impacted.
And where better to start than with weddings, the pinnacle of love for those who grew up dreaming of their big day. Though admittedly, the game itself is seen as something as a scourge for wedding planners, or a bride and groom not interested in 5-star mega raids, with some going as far as to publish articles on how to keep Pokémon Go from ruining your wedding. All this while others have advertised their venues for their Pokestops.
It seems that the trainers of the world have already won the battle, if the litany of appearances of Pokémon in wedding photos has anything to say on the matter. From Squirtle showing up during the official photoshoot – thankfully not with the full squad – to Dragonite checking in on cake tasting, it’s not just enough for the beloved creatures to set couples off, they need to see them into married life too.
One couple, who met through playing the app, was reminded of their chance meeting by a group of thoughtful friends on their wedding day, with a custom Pokémon Go illustration detailing their original encounter. Now immortalised in a popular Reddit post, the comments that make up a long thread below the happy couple tell other stories of love at first raid.
“Getting ideas here… I met my fiancé while playing Pokemon Go” and “I met my soon-to-be-husband playing Pokémon Go as well” are some other highlights, though we have to admit some sympathy for the plucky poster below. Still, with the number of couples out there who were introduced through the app, I don’t think it’s a leap to assume there might even be some Pokémon Go tots out in the world, taking their first steps for a 2km egg.
I decided to reach out to some of the Pokémon Go couples from Reddit, as well as a few from Twitter to find out about their game time together, and how it affected their relationships. It turns out that it’s a shared experience across the board for most of these couples, and nearly all of those that got back to me talked about how it gave them something to bond over instantly. In many cases, they just started out as walking buddies.
Just like anywhere else, some things are a result of convenience. One of the couples I talked to first picked up a Pokémon partnership so they could save on lure modules, which is a commendable community spirit in the first place, before all the time spent together led to something a little more special. Still, even if it is a common sense thing to share the burden of buying lure modules, it’s a glorious example of Niantic bringing people together.
It also seems that Niantic’s app is something of an ideal icebreaker, especially in a generation so used to doing a majority of their dating online. It’s something that all the couples I spoke to had in common from the outset, the perfect excuse to keep meeting up before, in these cases at least, it blossomed into something more.
It’s not just those who met after the launch of Pokémon Go who have benefitted from the game either, as there are even some nuptials that predate Niantic’s first foray into the Pokémon world. One husband sent me a simple message of how the game had reinforced his relationship after marriage, saying “my wife and I met in 2013 prior to the game coming out, but once it did, all our date nights involved long walks to play the game and hatch eggs”.
From the hours I spent searching the corners of the internet, it’s clear that Pokémon Go isn’t just a romantic rekindler. One of my personal favourites is from a Reddit post simply titled Am I too old? on the official forum, with one father positing the question “I’m 44 years old, and my youngest son got me into Pokémon Go. We both love the idea of having a Pokéstop near my office. Should I be feeling that I’m too old to enjoy hunting for Pokémon?”
The comments, as I’m sure you can guess by now, were full of love, understanding, and above all else, a defiant attitude in the face of growing up. No, was the overwhelming answer, with players as old as 69 chiming in with their will to continue, as well as an outpouring of younger players expressing how much they wish they could go around collecting creatures with their dad.
All of this brings me to my final point, and perhaps one of the best-known examples of a Pokémon Go couple you might have already seen. This nameless older couple, still probably blissfully unaware of the joy they’ve brought to others, showing us all how even in our later years, something as simple as a game revolving around catching superpowered creatures can bring you closer together.
Of course, you could be a cynic and say “they could be doing anything on their phones”, and you could be right. But, if writing and researching this has taught me one thing, it’s that those who believe in something are having a better time, especially those who believe that something good can come, and as it turns out, whether it be a shared lure module or a post cake tasting Dragonite, something good can when you’re playing Pokémon Go.