Get to Know Pokemon GO
(or How I am Finally Listening to My Mom and Playing Outside.)
What is Pokémon Go? Unless you’ve been hiding under tree, have no data access, or to any possible form of social media, or maybe you’ve been trampled by the herds of people passing you in a hurried pace, there is positively no way you haven’t heard of this game. Pokémon Go! is possibly the most craziest hyped up app/game that I’ve ever witness and its taking over the world by a electrified pikachu fueled viral storm. The word viral has been diluted in recent years. “Call the marketing team; make this product go viral!” A concept coopted by corporate buzzwordology. To witness, to be a part of something sincerely viral, those moments in time that have far-reaching impact, to have it happen in a single moment. It serves as a reminder of what the concept of being ‘viral’ truly is. The overnight sensation that we know as ‘Pokemon Go” went viral and it spread like wildfire all over our smartphones. Pokemon Go was unleashed and the response has been, well, I’m not sure how to explain the response. I can’t get a stranger to look up from their phone long enough to tell me. But you can hear scores of excitement and various “wha-hoos” this game is FUN,
What makes this game so special? SO many questions! So many Pokémon! Back in June during E3, I had casually mentioned during my E3 coverage, that Nintendo had plans to roll out a game named “Pokémon Go” and it was to be developed with the company Niantec. Niantec spent over 6 years of development resources into Ingress, an overwrought, augmented reality game. They took that game, cut its features by 80%, and slapped the Pokemon brand onto it. They wound up birthing a game we had all been dreaming should have been possible 15 years ago. After June’s coverage, I didn’t look back or paid any heed to it since then. I mean, you hear about fun games and the such, but only to be let down faster than a parent saying “we’ll see” to an over eager gamer child and sometimes it NEVER HAPPENS. Fast forward one month and a week, Nintendo, Niantec and The Pokémon Company launched Pokémon Go, a game for iPhones and Android smartphones featuring the classic video game franchise where players catch and train special creatures called Pokémon and I’m regretting my lack of interest as fast as I am catching Jigglypuffs.
The entire dynamic of the game is brilliant. It has an appeal to our inherent tribalism by offering affiliation with one of three available teams (Go Team Mystic!) Teenagers who never saw the summer daylight are now outside in little pods catching wild Eeve’s, husband and wife teams battling it out at a gym to take it over for themselves, families are going on walks and people who never heard of pokemon are quite confused but crazy curious about it. It offers a mechanism to affect the ‘real world’ in the form of attacking and defending gyms. It offers upgrades, a mainstay of nearly every successful, enduring game. It requires exploration in the REAL real world which is what separates the game into being a true phenomenon. It does all this in front of the nostalgic backdrop of the original 151 Pokémon.
What they did was create a game that connected fans of old and new, created bridge that brings people together. Because of this craze fans of the original and fans that got caught up in this game are now creating community pages and events. It’s brilliant. As we speak, someone is going to be relaxing at a pokestop near a gym that their team has taken over and plant a lure, just for fun. Another member of that team is going to be drawn. They will end up making a baby. All because of this game. In fact as I write up this article I’ve been invited to two Lure parties this friday night, sadly I had to turn down these social gatherings because I’ve already accepted a previous lure party invite to another section of town at the mall on a friday night.
But back to the original questions I asked, Just how do you play it? Whats a lure? Whats a gym? What’s the difference between red, yellow and blue teams? So many questions. Here is what separates this game from everything else, the basics you may see: The game is special in it’s use of augmented reality, where Pokémon will appear as if they’ve been spotted in the real world. The game presents a map powered by GPS, using real-world locations to spot Pokémon and collect items. When you find one, the game opens up your smartphone’s camera, giving you a view of Pokémon in the real world. Once you spot them, you flick a Poké Ball toward the creature to capture it. Honestly, just download the app (its free, but there are buying opportunities) search for a guide online, and go. You will find that there are many players out there from lawyers to kids on bikes out there playing and each will happily help you if you ask. There are tons of already posted websites that have how to’s from walkthroughs and youtube videos, and if that isn’t enough go onto Reddit or Facebook for their community pages and even team pages.
All up above was the good. The bad? The servers are still on beta mode and due to the high traffic they crash often ( I blame Team Rocket, but that’s just my humble opinion), so you’ll find yourself being logged off from time to time. You won’t lose any progress or Pokémon, but it’s rather frustrating at times. When they announced this game back in June during E3, they mentioned that shortly afterwards there will be a wrist accessory that would connect to your phone via bluetooth and will not kill your phone battery. It is to start around $35 and but now it will be widely available in December instead of later this month. The App still can crash on you in mid battle or after capturing a Pokémon, this is when you need to restart it again. Again, minor bump but it doesnt detract you from the fun. Privacy? I’ve seen things saying that there isnt a privacy issue and other times there has been. It depends on who you read. Another fear factor, you’re own personal safety. Please only do this when you’re on your own two feet and not in a moving vehicle with you driving. Be aware of your surroundings, Be careful, and most importantly, bring a battery pack.
All in all, this has been a fun adventure and I will continue playing. Will this fade? Maybe. Will people tire of it? Maybe. Will you have fun and have stories to share about this later? Definitely.
Until then, go outside and go catch’em all.