When it comes to famous Hollywood couples, most people think of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, or perhaps Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. But what about the charming English actor Robert Pattinson and his relationship with the ever-popular video game Pokémon Go? In light of the popular mobile game’s recent partnership with H&M, we decided to delve into Pattinson’s life and work, and find out more about his affinity for video games and the fashion industry.
A Game-Loving Actor
Pattinson became famous in the U.K. for playing the role of Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise. The franchise was made into a book series (known as the “New York Times Bestselling Books”), and a movie adaptation released in 2012. While he may be best known for his role as Edward Cullen, Pattinson has actually been playing video games since he was a kid. In fact, he credits them with changing his life. He told UK magazine GQ in 2015, “I started playing when I was about 7 years old. My dad had an old PlayStation and I would go to my mother’s kitchen and get my Nintendo and play away for hours. I started really getting into it when I was about 10 years old. I got lucky and found a Nintendo Switch, which is like a hybrid between a console and a handheld. It was the most exciting thing I ever found. I remember picking it up and just going crazy.”
The Nintendo Switch is one of the most popular gaming devices of all time, having sold more than 100 million units worldwide. It was originally designed for using with a TV (called “the Nintendo Switch TV”), but it can also be used independently (like a smartphone, or tablet). What makes the Switch so special is that, although it is a hybrid device, it can operate as a console or a handheld. This means that it can be used to play games both on the go and at home. It has also been credited with reinvigorating the handheld gaming genre, which had become somewhat dormant after the Nintendo DS. (A recent trailer for Pokémon Go shows off this unique feature in action.)
It’s likely that you know a bit about the Twilight franchise, and its connection to Pokémon Go. When the game first launched in the U.S. in the summer of 2016, it had a special event tied to the movie’s 20th anniversary. Actress Anna Kendrick, who famously played Jess in the series, revealed that she and other celebrities were “summoned” to Pokémon Go events, after their photos were seen onscreen by the game’s algorithm.
When it comes to video games, it seems like everyone has either played them or knows someone who has. It would be a bit much to claim that Pattinson is the only famous person who plays games, but certainly, his status among gamers is undisputed. (His Instagram boasts almost 200,000 followers, and he’s no stranger to using social media to promote himself, his work, and his passions.)
The Twilight star has also been an outspoken supporter of eSports (“professional sports played online”), and has invested in several gaming teams, including the eXtreme Gaming (“XG”) organization, which he co-founded. XG is an international collective that brings together professional gamers from around the world and provides them with the tools, training, and opportunities to succeed. (In 2019, XG will be the first gaming organization to compete in the Olympics after being granted a license by the International Olympic Committee.)
Pattinson has also been praised for using his fame and fortune to help those in need. He has given money to various charitable causes, including the Northern Irish homeless, the restoration of the Notre Dame Cathedral in France, and the prevention of climate change. (His Twitter account is a goldmine of good works, with almost 350,000 followers, and he encourages his followers to make a positive impact in their own communities.)
The Fashion Industry
It’s important to note that not only is Pokémon Go a video game, it’s also a massive app and thus, a massive data-collecting machine. This means that all of a user’s personal information (including locations) is available for companies to mine for marketing purposes. Naturally, this raised concerns about privacy. (Forbes recently ranked Pokémon Go as the 14th most privacy-invasive app.)
In order to combat this, Niantic, the developers of Pokémon Go, have promised users that their personal information will not be sold to third parties. Additionally, the company has committed to not using location data for any purpose other than the game. (This is also what Google does with its own games and products.)
While we wait for these companies to live up to these promises, the privacy of users’ data is still up in the air. After all, the tech industry is infamous for being untrustworthy, and marketers know that consumers will click on anything that promises to make their lives easier. With the help of sophisticated algorithms and massive data sets, marketers can now target their ads to individuals based on their interests, hobbies, and demographics. (Pattinson himself has spoken out about this issue, and even wrote a poem about it, titled “Don’t Be Evil.”)
Thankfully, there is also the Fashion Industry, which does exactly what it says on the tin (well, tins): It fashions, or designs clothing and accessories for, others. Companies like H&M and Zara create clothes and accessories that are designed to be worn by celebrities and the general public alike. And while you’d think that playing video games all day would make a person ultra-casual, it seems that this is actually the style direction that the Fashion Industry is taking. (Remember when everyone wore black? Well, times have changed.)
H&M and Zara are just two of the many fashion brands that have partnered with video game developers to create custom designs that are inspired by popular video games. Some of these are available to buy now, while others will be released in the near future. For gamers who love to dress up like their favorite video game characters, this is a lucrative opportunity to own exclusive items that they won’t be able to find outside of a comic book store or an online marketplace.
The Pokémon Connection
It’s important to note here that, although Robert Pattinson is a big gamer, he is not actually affiliated with Pokémon Go, or any of its related companies. He just happens to be friends with the company’s co-founders, and agreed to invest in XG, which is owned by the Pokémon Company. (Pattinson actually has a rather large selection of Pokémon fans who call him, ‘Pattie,’ on social media.)
Since the inception of Pokémon Go, fans have been curious about the connection between the game and the movie series. Some believe that, since the apps integrate with social media accounts (such as Twitter and Instagram), it is possible to gain insight into the mind of Edward Cullen. (The actor himself has joked about this: “I really can’t say too much about this as I don’t want to spoil the movie for people. If you’ve never seen it then I’d advise you not to read on. If you have seen it then perhaps you can understand why I can’t talk about it.”)
Interestingly enough, some fans have also tried to use this connection to their advantage. (Again, this would be a bit much to claim that Pattinson is the only one doing this, but certainly, people have gotten in touch with him through the media to ask about this.)
In 2016, a company called Distractify compiled a short documentary about the fandom surrounding the Twilight saga and Pokémon Go. Many of the people interviewed in the doc mention how they use social media to interact with other fans, and many also reveal that they have been able to benefit from their obsession with fandom. (Some fans have even gotten jobs through their connection to these fandoms.)
Is it possible to connect with your favorite video game character through everyday life? More and more people are discovering the answer to be yes. Thanks to advancements in technology and the general increase of social media platforms, it is now possible to connect with other fans (and sometimes even the stars themselves!) through games and memes. (In fact, Pokémon Go was one of the first games to implement this, with a “Real Life Partner” feature, which allows game users to message each other through the in-game chat feature.)