Three years ago, something of Wailord proportions hit the gaming world: Pokémon Go launched on smartphones. And not only did that release reinvigorate and revolutionize Nintendo’s gotta-catch-’em-all franchise, it pretty much singlehandedly put augmented reality on every gamers map.
In a heartbeat, there were kids and adults walking around looking for Pokémon in their school yards and office parking lots. And people were scurrying off in search of Pokéstops and battles at a nearby Pokégym. And as a sweet bonus, they were getting tons of aerobic exercise, too.
Well, never ones to, uh, lay down on the job, the folks at Pokémon publisher Niantic (along with Nintendo, of course) have dreamed up something new. Something big. Something … sleepy. In fact, they’re calling it Pokémon Sleep. And Tsunekazu Ishihara, the company’s CEO, said that it will “turn sleeping into entertainment.”
Well, the exact details are still a bit of a mystery. But it seems the game will somehow incentivize sleeping, giving players rewards for the more sleep they get that will be usable in as-yet-unidentified Pokémon products. That means kids won’t have to smuggle their mom’s phone under their pillows at night. Which is good, because studies have shown that staring at screens before bed can really mess with kids’ (and your average Snorlax’s) sleep patterns. So when the game comes out in 2020, Nintendo will release some nonscreen hardware to facilitate this unorthodox game’s primary goal: helping kids get more sleep. (Just like Pokémon Go encouraged them to get out and walk more.)
Nintendo has already been selling a device called Pokémon Go Plus, which connects to your iPhone or Android smartphone and provides an easy way to catch Pokémon and collect items with a single click of a button. The new gadget may be similar in some ways, but it will also come complete with built-in accelerometers to measure a players sleep patterns. (Much like the way some fitness trackers like Fitbit already do.)
And after much hard work, time and planning Nintendo announced that this new sleep measurement device would be called a … Pokémon Go Plus Plus. (OK, maybe they didn’t spend all that much time on the name.)
How all this tucked-in gameplay, er, shut-eye will actually impact the Poké themselves is yet to be revealed. We’ll just have to wait and see. But you know what? No matter how it plays out, I’m thinking there’ll be some enthusiastic moms and dads ready to cheer the idea. I mean if a game actually encourages kids to turn off the screens and hit the sack for a full night’s sleep, that’s gotta be … a plus plus.