So Pokémon Go has finally taken the world by storm. The franchise began in 1995, created by Satoshi Tajiri with a pair of Game Boy Games. Since then, it’s spawned several more games, a trading card game that became immensely popular, a few TV series and several movies as well as a huge amount of memorabilia; and if this new app’s traffic is any indicator, a loyal and immense following. I grew up in the eye of the storm. As this obsession took over, it wasn’t really something that actually hit me. I couldn’t get into the card game, and I watched the TV show when nothing else was on. I’m far and away from your average Pokemon fan, but I am having a lot of fun with this application.
So if this is your first time hearing about Pokémon Go(which is unlikely) you may be wondering what’s up with the app. It’s sort of an unfinished game, a chance for people to finally play a beloved series on their phones. It’s actually more than just a game though, it uses GPS to pinpoint your location and the game is played in the real world. This isn’t a new concept, but this is the first time such an endeavor has been adopted by the public to such a large-scale. The application is actually pretty simple, you have a small tracking device that allows you to tell how far away a Pokemon is and it will give you a rough estimate from 300km, 200km to 100km or less. You use this to wander around until you’ve come across the Pokemon you’re looking for and then you just throw poke-balls at it until you’ve captured your new Pokemon.
As you can imagine wandering around staring at your phone can be dangerous, but it has had an immense impact on the city. It’s currently a more popular application then Tinder and Twitter. Just take a drive at night and pretty much anyone you see walking with their phone open but ignoring the screen is a player, as well as a large amount of people staring at their phone while they wander about. There are also landmarks in the virtual game that overlay with real life places, so this has been driving foot traffic.
There are two types of landmarks in-game, which take the form of Pokestops and Gyms. Pokestops are points where players can restock on in-game items which seem to be random but mostly come in the form of more poke balls. Gyms are landmarks that can be challenged and taken over by Pokemon trainers. A Gym will be controlled by a specific team, and you can only take one over if you’re an opposing team. The game consists of three teams: Mystic (blue), Instinct (yellow), and Valor (red). Since there seem to be groups of poke-stops in areas, I feel like this will incite the traveling salesman problem, especially if you’re working with a limited data plan.
Did I mention this application likes data? There are some people who have been using gigs since they started playing, as well as people who have only used 80 megs to reach level 8. It doesn’t just love data, since you can’t play this game without having your screen on it will eat through your battery as well. It’s becoming common practice for people to pick up external battery packs. WiFi can help with data if you’re worried about it, but the nature of the game is to get out and run around.
Ultimately, the game has caught on like wildfire, and the cool thing about it is it’s getting people to go out and meet new people. Personally, I like the concept more than anything. I believe that with the popularity of this application, developers will take note and start building more applications that interface with the real world. Plus, it actually gives me a reason to get out of the house and take a walk, instead of seeing the same road for the hundredth time. You’re actually exploring a new world. It’s pretty fun.
My name is Chris Diel and I’m team Valor, and a DJ with KSSU