Remember that spell in 2016 when you’d see meandering groups of near-strangers pointing their phone at very specific sections of Boots, or congregating in hunchbacked gangs by the public toilets in a park somewhere in England’s green and pleasant land? You remember Pokémon Go then!
Having managed to coerce millions upon millions of gamers — and people who just thought Pikachu was “quite cute” — into getting really into walking, Nintendo has decided that sleep is the next basic human function they’ll be gamifying, with the announcement of a sequel to the insanely-successful hunting simulator arriving yesterday, 28 May.
Developed by Japanese studio Select Button, and released again by Nintendo and Niantic, Pokémon Sleep is scheduled for release at some point in 2020, and there’s talk of a new piece of sleep-tracking hardware being in development.
Entertainment bible Variety reports that “players will need to put the device next to them while sleeping. The device will then send info to the user’s phone via Bluetooth.”
Relatively alarmingly, the news that Nintendo is going to probe deep into our psyches as we drift into another night of restless semi-sleep — thank you, life in late-capitalism! — arrives at the same time that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially begun to recognise video game addiction as a mental health disorder.
Still, if we ignore the oddity of having sleep turned into a chance to level up virtual fire-breathing critters, the prospect of being digitally rewarded — it is likely that the new title will use sleep in the same way the first did walking. Ie by rewarding players for doing more of it through the levelling-up of the characters they’ve amassed in their Poké-fixated perambulations — for doing nothing seems like an oddly perfect encapsulation of the state of things here in 2019.
The news was broken at this year’s Pokémon Conference.