As the world erupts with excitement over the glorious outdoor frenzy that is Pokémon Go, users are finding that the app is helping them make friends and overcome social anxiety — and even, in some cases, find romantic partners.
According to data published by SimiliarWeb, Pokémon Go has rapidly eclipsed other mobile apps like Tinder. By July 8, it's already been installed on 5.16% of all Android devices in the United States, as opposed to Tinder, which has only been downloaded on about 2% of Android devices.
Yet even though the game now dwarfs Tinder in terms of downloads, it's clearly being used for a similar purpose. On Reddit, user -GremlinDVa- shared her story about striking up a conversation with a cute stranger because he heard her mention the game to a cashier. He then invited her to come catch some Pokémon with him by the lake.
"We sat there talking for half an hour catching Psyducks and Magikarps next to the lake. We then added each other on social media and said goodbye. When I got home I sent him a message asking if he would be interested in coffee and a Pokémon walk this weekend and he said yes!" she wrote. "I suffer from anxiety and don't really leave home unless it's to get groceries... It has been really refreshing and made me feel ambitious about getting back out there, meeting new people and going on daily walks. Already this game has had such a positive impact on my life."
She's not the only one. Just days after the game was released, Reddit users have been sharing stories about how the app has helped them strike up conversations with strangers. One enterprising Tinder user even combined Pokémon Go with the dating app to get dates.
"I edited my Tinder profile asking if anyone wanted to go catch Pokemon and soon after got a message," wrote Reddit user lalalava. "Pokemon made it easy to make conversation and there were cute moments where he had to show me how to do certain things in the game, or we'd bump into each other trying to catch the same Pokemon. It was refreshing going into the date with a shared activity (but not as serious as something like a movie or rock climbing) that brought up natural conversation."
Players are also using the app to socialize and arrange platonic group meet-ups. One player in Rochester, New York, named Craig Lovejoy was pleasantly surprised when a Pokémon-catching stroll with his roommate and sister helped them meet several local residents they'd seen before, but never talked to.
"It was originally me, my roommate and his sister, but when we found this crew, we decided to all stick together for a bit...The age range is incredible and all walks of life seem to flock together," Lovejoy said in a Skype interview. "I definitely think that it is an amazing platform for friend making."
Over the weekend, thousands of urban Australian gamers registered online to venture outside together for a Pokémon Go walk. A photo of a motley crew of Pokémon Go players has also gone viral on Reddit, racking up more than 2000 comments at the time of this writing.
Even in less populated areas, players are using the game to bond with neighbors and coworkers. One military wife at an isolated military base, who goes by Quantum_Killer on Reddit, noted how Pokémon Go managed to bring the military families on her base together.
"This base has the third highest suicide rate, just to give you an idea of how lonely and depressing it can be to live here," wrote Quantum_Killer. "I mentioned to my husband that I would love to stop by as there are zero Pokemon nearby all across base. We head down there and only a handful of airmen are hanging out welcoming us...Everyone makes a plan to meet up the following day..... the next day over 50 people show up with their kids, pets and coolers! This never happens."