The Rhetoric of Pokémon Go

Names are important. In fact, I would argue that one of the factors in Pokémon’s success is in the names–basically all of them involve puns of some kind, and it adds a charm that other franchises haven’t really matched. When you hear the name “Charmander,” you know two things–it’s going to involve flames and be somewhat lizard-like. (There’s also a Western mythological layer in that salamanders often gained an association with fire or as spirits of fire, though I’m not sure how deep into mythology the naming process went.) “Pikachu” is a rodent-like creature that sneezes (electricity), Tangela is a tangled mass of vines, Ditto copies other Pokémon, and so on. They’ve been good about continuing this tradition ever since, though I’ll confess to mostly ignorance of anything past the second-generation Pokémon.

Last night my wife, dog, and I went to walk at the river. I was happy to see a lot of Water types down there–I caught a number of Magikarps and Slowpokes, as well as a few Psyducks–so I can harbor hopes of a Gyarados one day. But even more than that, I was surprised at just how many people we saw outside. On one end of the trail were three Pokéstops with a fourth fairly nearby, and about halfway down the trail were a gazebo and mini “Stonehenge” formation that were Pokéstops quite close to each other. The latter were especially busy with people–the gazebo benches entirely full, and large clumps of others milling around outside, Lure Modules on both stops to keep the Pokémon coming. This to me is one of the strangest but coolest things about the game–it’s transforming where people are and how they’re out interacting with others. We didn’t talk much to people, but there was a group of guys out with their dog that ours just had to meet, so we briefly spoke with them.

But to the main point I wanted to make: Lure Modules are simply named–they’re not “Pokélures” as I keep wanting to call them, or anything more complicated than that. But it definitely makes you wonder when reading the name if Niantic understood what they were doing with names. Do they lure wild Pokémon to the location? Absolutely. But just as much they’re also luring people, and that’s just as interesting.

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Author: lpivellius

I am a gamer of all kinds. Sometimes I write about them.

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