Most people who grew up playing the Pokemon games dreamed of a reality where pocket monsters roamed the real world. A lot of kids would have given up their allowance for life to be able to catch a Caterpie when getting off the bus. Instead we just had snails.
But technology has advanced enough to bring us one step closer -- sort of -- to that reality. The Pokemon Company and Nintendo are teaming up with mobile developer Niantic to create Pokemon Go, a game for iOS and Android that will allow you to "catch" virtual Pokemon in real world locations. Using the GPS on their phone, players will be able to find Pokemon hidden throughout physical locations (like your local coffee shop, the bus stop by your house). You can then battle and trade with fellow Pokemon Go players.
This concept isn't new to Niantic. They're responsible for the cult mobile hit Ingress, which uses the same location-based gameplay hooks in a sci-fi multiplayer game. The idea is to get people out of the house and into their city to look for "portals" that are all over the world. Players are divided into two teams: The Resistance and The Enlightened, who, according to the game's lore, are fighting for the future of the human race. That game now boasts 12 million downloads worldwide, according to Niantic.
Pokemon Go will take the same sort of approach, just with a Nintendo twist. "Pokémon GO is a wonderful combination of Niantic's real world gaming platform and one of the most beloved franchises in popular culture," John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic said in a press release. "Our partnership with ThePokémon Company and Nintendo is an exciting step forward in real-world gaming and using technology to help players discover the world and people around them."
Nintendo is developing an additional (and optional) element as well: "Pokemon Go Plus," a device (designed to look like something straight out of a Pokemon game) that will allow you to perform simple in-game functions with the touch of a button. It will connect to your phone via bluetooth and will flash and vibrate to let you know of game events happening nearby so you don't have to be staring at your phone screen while you walk around town.
Pokemon Go will be free (with optional in-app purchases), but it won't be out until 2016. Until then, we can just keep dreaming about finding a Diglett in our back yards.