So I first heard about Pokemon Go from a work friend who has long since stopped playing (like most people), but he told me about it in the very early days, 2 days after the game came out. Augmented reality had been done before, but I hadn’t played any of those games (like Field Trip or Ingress). Anyway, I would say that if we look back to the hype curve, Pokemon Go arrived on the scene somewhere in the middle of its peak expectations.
THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA (A.D. 2016, July)
Pokemon came on the scene and in New York City it quickly took over en masse. People were talking about it, at first just the people who were gamers, but soon this spread to quasi-gamers, and faster than I had ever seen a game move, to casual people. I think I was just a bit too old to LOVE Pokemon growing up, I didn’t have Pokemon cards, and I only really got into the initial release on Gameboy. However, there is an entire generation of people who went absolutely wild over Pokemon the TV show, the card game, and of course the games themselves.
Because of all this merchandising and because Nintendo has tons of loyal followers (and it continues to release the same games over and over but on different, better hardware), people like me and younger (so mid-thirty somethings down to kids) have an appreciation if not a fondness for these artificially created creatures.
So the groundwork was lain by years of merchandising, nostalgia, and subliminal messaging that told us “GOTTA CATCH EM’ ALL.” Into this environment came the first game (to most of us) that relied on real-life locations and on other people that could interact with the same digital places, it was an augmented reality. Stepping into this, many people were amazed that their phone game had to be “played” by going outside, walking around, and randomly “encountering” Pokemon in the wild.
The world was not equal though, as many people found out that the places they lived had very few, if any, places of interest where Pokestops were.
On the other hand, living in New York City, it was Pokemon central.
In fact, on the topic of Pokemon central there was one video from early on in the Pokemon craze went viral. It took place in New York’s Central Park, the southeast corner (5th avenue and 59th street) where a junction of several Pokestops exist. This area was a hotbed for Pokemon Go, with the Pokestops being consistently lured (once I had stopped there at 3 AM on a Thursday and sure enough, all the stops were lured up) at all hours of the day.
So for the topic of the video, it was a somewhat rare Pokemon that appeared. It’s actually fairly easy to evolve from an Evee to a Vaporeon (you just name the Evee accordingly before evolving it, see below).
Anyway, at the time I think the trick was not well known and in most people’s eyes it was “hard” to get a Vaporeon. So in this vein, the formula of TONS OF PEOPLE + RARE POKEMON SIGHTING = HYSTERIA.