Car crashes, muggings, and racial profiling; these are the warnings which have rung high and low in the wake of the release of the app, Pokémon Go. And while these are perfectly legitimate warning signs to be cautious of while using the app, I feel as though writing the app off completely isn’t a fair conclusion to reach without experiencing it firsthand.
So, this is exactly what I did. And let me say. It’s far more difficult than one might expect, and addictive enough that the concept of someone using it while driving or walking into strange neighborhoods in search of Pokémon seems completely understandable to me.
No amount of scare quotes or horror stories could keep me away from running all cross my neighborhood from four in the afternoon to 11 in the evening, in search of elusive Pokémon.
The app works through a geolocation in your phone, which maps out your surroundings and establishes moving pixelated roads and stepping stones, as well as flashing green leaves in order to indicate that particular Pokémon are near each player.
Players are rewarded for each Pokémon that they catch — all Pokémon encountered are caught if a Pokéball is thrown within range of the Pokémon, a major departure from the Pokémon games — players are also rewarded points for each egg they hatch, as well as how many gyms they claim in the name of their team and how many Pokémon they level up and evolve. As a result of doing these things, players earn points to advance their Pokémon trainer level.
At level five, trainers are given the option to choose a Pokémon Team to fight and claim gyms for — these teams are Team Valor, Team Instinct — and the most popular, Team Mystic. These teams are colloquially known as team red, yellow and blue; their iconography marked by the three legendary bird Pokémon: Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno.
I am only on level four, as the IPhone IOS 4’s aren’t particularly conducive with the app, and my sister has caught most of my Pokémon through accessing the email I use for my Pokémon account, on her IPhone. Users can switch between accounts on the app through different emails or Pokémon accounts on the official Pokémon website. Meaning that regardless of whether a player deletes their app, their data remains intact.
An important thing to keep in mind is that players truly don’t need prior experience with playing Pokémon in order to succeed in Pokémon Go.
I would know; as someone who has been playing Pokémon since they were five-years-old, while simultaneously flailing to get a complete grip on the app. People who have never touched a Pokémon game in their life, however, such as my little sister, have been successfully blazing the trail on this app, so I encourage the hesitant and inexperienced to give it a try.
From my observations on the app, what can be prove most difficult, especially when you live in a more suburban area, are that the Pokémon that the app shows to be “near” you, are actually, far more likely to be at least a half mile away from their user; and sometimes, these locations are entirely unobtainable locations, such as deep in the woods or literally within people’s’ houses.
I have two Eevees. These are the rarest spoils I’ve gotten from the app so far. When you live in a fairly rural area, it’s likely that you have approximately five or more of the same Pokémon that are considered common, if not also functionally useless in battle with other trainers.
Keeping that in mind, I wouldn’t let this stop players who live in the middle of nowhere from trying to “catch them all.” Pokémon is and always has been about having fun more than a competitive thrill, and it warms my heart that so many of my fellow millennials are going outside again to exercise as well as participate in something they truly enjoy.