What Is Pokémon Go and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?
First, my friend caught the charmander in the supermarket. Then the flood began: Diglettes on the steering wheel. Reichorn at the bar. Magikarp in a frying pan. They are all Pokémon to catch in the new Pokémon Go game. You’ve probably heard about it, but what is it and why is everyone obsessed with it?
Pokémon is a pocket monster handbag and an insanely popular franchise with an equally insanely long history. In Pokémon, monsters roam the lands, and your job is to find, capture, and train them. Then you send them into battle against other players. As a kid, I played a hell of a lot of the original Pokemon games on the Nintendo Game Boy and followed those adventures on handheld game consoles for generations to come. I collected trading cards and was obsessed with the (still running) TV show. Luckily, you don’t need any previous Pokémon experience to enjoy Pokémon Go .
How do I play Pokémon Go ?
Pokémon Go is a free mobile app that can be downloaded for iOS or Android . It is free to download and start playing, but you have the option to use real money to buy an in-game currency called PokéCoins . (From $ 0.99 for 100 PokéCoin to $ 99.99 for $ 14,500) These PokéCoins are used to purchase Pokéballs, the in-game item you need to catch Pokémon. Now you don’t have to spend real money, it just means you have to pay with your time and energy (which is a lot of fun anyway!).
The game works by using your phone’s GPS to determine your real location and augmented reality to bring these cool Pokémon on top of what you see in front of you. And you – the digital you – can be customized with clothing, faction (or “team” of players that you can join) and other options, and you level up as you play.
I watched my friends excitedly pull out their phones as we walk a couple of yards down the street, round a corner, or enter a new location looking for new Pokémon. If the time is right, wild Pokémon will jump at you, giving you a chance to catch them with a Pokeball. When you capture a Pokémon, it is added to your Pokédex, a kind of Pokémon database where you can personalize them later. And then the fun part: you can go to the local “gym” and fight with your Pokémon against other trainers (also real people).
Pokéstops , on the other hand, are usually pre-defined landmarks that you can interact with and get items with. Some of these items will enhance your “ability” as a coach, or simply attract tons of other horny Pokémon Go players to you. All in all, Pokémon Go gives you a lot of things to do, but one of its biggest benefits is its social aspect.
Why does everyone seem to be playing?
You can’t read news these days without seeing the headlines about Pokémon Go . If you scroll through Twitter or Facebook, you’ll come across regular photos – of a grocery store, someone’s refrigerator, or even a woman in labor – and you can expect to find a Pokémon there. Even the group chats of my friends and me are regularly lit up with conversations about which gyms and PokéStops are nearby.
Everyone loves Pokémon Go , even though playing it can drain your battery and cellular data . I wonder why people liked it, I asked a question on Facebook and Twitter and got a lot of answers. It all started with the obvious:
On Facebook, Stephanie admitted that it was more than a prank of the Pokémon themselves:
“Catch them all! Yeah. But I will answer your question: nostalgia. And everyone else talked about it, so a little peer pressure.
Andrew loves the idea of catching Pokémon in real life.
This is most like a real-life Pokemon experience. A lot of people play out of nostalgia, but Pokémon has always been a great idea.
Angelo and these Twitter users, on the other hand, have found tremendous real value in playing Pokémon Go :
I am definitely pulling towards the end of “catch up with them all.” Integration with real places gives me a reason to get up and walk / run to places nearby that I would never have seen otherwise. I’ve definitely gotten more cardio in the last two days than in the last three months combined. Also, the social aspect: I run into a bunch of other Pokemon trainers in the real world and this is an easy way to strike up a conversation with strangers. The sheer number of people who are passionate about finding Pokemon in the real world (and walking around it) is simply amazing.
Meanwhile, some people just love to see others talk about it:
Everyone agrees that the game is not only fun, especially for people who have grown up partaking in the franchise in one way or another, but it is also a great way to get out, explore places they will never have, and meet new people. And since the people you meet also play Pokémon Go , the game instantly gives you points of contact (just trying to catch this Pikachu) so you can easily bond with other trainers or perhaps forge some incredible new friendships. Even people who don’t play the game benefit from this: “I have friends who take their kids out to catch Pokémon,” a friend told me.
Of course, this is not the only game of this kind. The company behind Pokémon Go , Niantic, released another popular ARG a few years ago called Ingress, which has many of the same benefits and offers the same social dimension. Obviously it’s not as popular as Pokémon, but we’ve already mentioned how these social features can make a big difference in real-world play before.
How easy is it to get started?
Part of the beauty of Pokémon Go lies in the simplicity of the game. You just need an iPhone or Android phone and you have a reliable Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Unless you have an unlimited data plan, you should definitely consider gaming or heavy data usage only in areas with available Wi-Fi . The game is reported to take between 2 and 8 megabytes of data per hour, depending on what you are doing. Otherwise, there are ways to shrink and save as much of your data for Pokémon Go as possible .
Plus, Pokémon Go does drain your phone’s battery a lot. While the game has its own battery saving mode, you should take other battery saving measures into your own hands . First, you can reduce the brightness of your phone screen. If you have Bluetooth turned on, turn it off. If you know you will drain your battery completely anyway, consider getting an external battery like Anker’s PowerCore + ($ 9.99) .
And if you’re just getting started with Pokémon Go and don’t know what to do, check out this detailed guide from our friends at Kotaku.
Pokémon Go is a game and addicting, but by its nature it brings strangers together in places they would never have visited otherwise. I mean, it’s pretty surprising to me that my friends can gather around a trash can on the street, gaze intently at their phones and attract a crowd of passers-by who also immediately pull out their phones to check.