#WhateverWednesday: Pokemon Go Cures the Obesity Epidemic
The moment we’ve all been waiting for has at last arrived–Pokemon GO! is now available in the App stores in the U.S.!
I can’t even begin to express how excited I was for this to happen. I’ve long thought that the pinnacle of Pokemon enjoyment would occur when we could find, capture, and battle Pokemon in our own environment. My first thought on this occurring was that we might one day achieve holograms. Actually, with the advent of Virtual Reality gaming just now firing up, that might not be that far off!
What is Pokemon GO!?
Pokemon GO! is a free mobile app (with optional microtransactions for items) developed by Niantic and powered by Ingress. Anyone who has played a Pokemon game knows that the general premise is that you capture and train Pokemon to battle, then fight other trainers and gyms to gain prestige. The object is to “Catch them all” and become a Pokemon Master, one of the best trainers in the world.
Now with Pokemon GO! you can find Pokemon around your house, in your city, out in the wilderness as far as you are willing to travel, and even on your desk at work. The variety of available Pokemon is based on your region and geographical factors–such as lakes and forests–and the quantity seems to be dependent on population.
Pokemon Gyms appear at large public areas such as universities and hospitals, and ‘Poke Stops’–like Pokemon Marts–appear at ‘places of interests’ like businesses and monuments.
Traveling is the only way to do well at this game, as you need to encounter Pokemon to gain experience, and Poke Stops are crucial to success. Furthermore, walking is the only way to hatch an egg.
You will be introduced to Professor Willow who will tell you how to play. Then, you get to customize your avatar, either male or female, to look and dress how you want. As with all Pokemon games, you will then provide your name and be given a starter Pokemon. Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle will be immediately available for capture, but you can only choose one. They will appear wherever you are. Bulbasaur for me was hanging out in my bedroom. A friend reported catching Squirtle as he was sitting on the toilet.
Once you’ve got that sorted, START WALKING!
What I Learned in My First Two Hours
My dream of being a Pokemon Master started with me suiting up appropriately. I wanted to feel like a real trainer, so I put on some shorts, some comfortable shoes, and a bandana. Last second I decided to throw on my Naruto Leaf Village standard issue headband as well. No reason not to feel like a badass whilst hunting for Pokemon. Then I stepped out my back door and hit the trail.
I don’t believe in reading the rules before I start a game. I just wanted it to feel like a new experience and learn as I went. I figured there’d be a ton of Pokemon in the wilderness behind my house. But I didn’t know how they would appear, so I just kept wandering around, waiting for random encounters. For a time, I attempted to follow the red and white compass, but it kept changing direction.
After about thirty minutes of this, I decided that Pokemon were next to impossible to find, and I decided to try heading for one of the other markers on the map. The game explained that the blue outposts are Poke Stops, and that I should stop there if I could. One of those was fairly close, so I started towards it.
And then I learned how Pokemon look on the map. And then things got interesting. I found several Pokemon in my subdivision. Then I went down the road and down a dirt road. Nothing there. Then I went to the golf course–JACKPOT! Then I went back to my subdivision where more Pokemon had appeared. I spent about three hours walking around catching Pokemon. Then I went back inside and sat down. Later, my radar picked up an Eevee (which I love), so I got up off my cozy position on the couch to pursue it. Apparently, Pokemon really enjoy my neighbors yard, so I sort of creepily floated outside the perimeter of his yard, hoping one would venture out far enough to let me catch it.
I can only imagine what it looks like…suddenly a bunch of couch-bound gamers are following their cellphones around, looking lost, then stopping and basically giving the appearance that they are photographing your house. Then they wander down the road a bit before doubling back to photograph your house again. At least, that is the way I looked, I’m sure.
What I’ve Learned Since That Day
You level up and evolve your Pokemon using species specific candies, which you get by catching a lot of that Pokemon.
You ‘Transfer’ Pokemon you don’t want so you can keep a low Pokemon inventory. When you do this, you get candy. To my knowledge, it’s the same as ‘releasing’ because you never see that Pokemon again.
Gyms appear at large public areas, like colleges and hospitals. There’s one in my town at the recreational center. I intend to own this soon.
When you reach Level 5, you can challenge gyms. As soon as you do this, the game will prompt you to choose one of three teams. Mystic (Blue, represented by Articuno), Valor (Red, represented by Moltres), or Instinct (Yellow, represented by Zapdos). When you defeat and ‘control’ a gym, your teammates can help you defend that gym by assigning Pokemon to it. Your teammates can train at the gym to raise its prestige. If your prestige drops to zero, when your gym is defeated, it is relinquished to the victorious team’s control. At least, that’s how I understand it so far…I will be challenging my first gym today.
My coworkers who play Pokemon GO and I have decided to join the same team. There’s a gym right across the street from work at the vocational school. We plan to control that gym.
I need a bike. As we traveled from home to work today, we ran through some areas that have different Pokemon. If you want to travel far and fast, a bike is the way to go. I don’t like the idea of driving…it feels like cheating and not in the spirit of the game.
I wrote this blog post on July 8. At the time of writing it, I have 13 unique Pokemon and several over Combat Point 100. (CP100, a measure of Pokemon Strength). I’m not very tough yet, but we’re all new for the time being.
The game is still a little buggy, but it’s not too bad. The server has gone down a couple of times. I’m disappointed that there are fewer Pokemon in the wilderness than in the cities, as my fantasy involved me hiking and exploring forests to find wild Pokemon. However, the excitement about ‘going to see what’s out there’ as well as the competitive aspect with the gyms and other trainers is pretty awesome. Competition is a major driving force, at least for me. If I want to be good at this game, I have to get up, go find Pokemon, and walk. A LOT.
Also, Pokemon has retained its popularity over more than a decade. Anyone who has ever enjoyed the game probably already has the app, which you means you can be pretty secure in the knowledge that you’re not the only one wandering around right now looking lost, trying to find out where that Eevee is hiding.
I can’t wait to see where they are going with this. Team Battles, trading, and PvP fighting are supposed to be part of the game. Either they haven’t rolled this out yet and plan to or I’m simply missing something. When that does happen, I want to be ready for it.
But for now…my intention is to control all of the area’s local gyms. Team Valor is the team to fear. Mark my words. See you out there, Trainer!