So I have a little confession to make. For the past few days I’ve been hunting Pokémon non-stop and it’s become a kind of an obsession for me. I’m slightly addicted to Pokémon Go.
This obsession has lead me to parts of my hometown that I’ve never ventured (or dared ventured) into, all in the name of catching that Pikachu that has just popped onto my cell phone’s screen. I’ve even dared to quickly chase down a Venonat residing in our grumpy neighbours’ back yard with my 5-year-old daughter as our lookout.
For those that haven’t had the chance to dip their toes into the warm and comforting waters of Pokémon Go, let me give you a quick overview of what exactly the game is and how it seems to lure you in before getting you addicted to it’s “gotta catch them all” gameplay.
So what exactly do you do in Pokémon Go?
Well, the game has you hunting down, capturing, battling and trading Pokémon throughout the real world. You do this by first creating your avatar and then, in true Pokémon fashion, selecting your starter Pokémon. The game displays your immediate surroundings in the form of a map with your avatar indicating your current position.
As players walk around, the game tracks their movement on the map and every once in a while a Pokémon appears randomly. Tapping on the Pokémon takes you to a battle screen where you flick Pokéballs at them. By successfully hitting the Pokémon with the Pokéballs players are able to capture them.
Capturing more than one kind of a Pokémon gives you candy which can be used to power up or evolve your Pokémon. Each Pokémon you capture gets added to your Pokédex.
The map also currently features two types of locations, the Poké stops and Pokémon Gyms. Stops are where you will be replenishing your items, these range from Pokéballs (for catching Pokémon) to Incense (for luring Pokémon). Pokémon Gyms are where you battle other Pokémon trainers. Battling is mostly a matter of swiping and tapping until the opposing Pokémon faints. By beating these trainers you gain control of the Gym for your team (Red, Blue, and Yellow).
Now we all know that free-to-play games usually lulls you into a sense of security before asking you to pay some real-world money for some or other reason (usually in order for you to stand any chance of enjoying the games). So far I have not needed to spend any real-world money in for any reason in the game.
I appreciate the fact that Niantic and Nintendo were smart enough to only let players buy items such as Pokéballs and incense with real-world money. This means that even if you buy these items you still need to go out and capture Pokémon in order to power-up or evolve them. It seems that, for now at least, Niantic and Nintendo are staying away from the pay to win model.
As I said, it’s easy enough to get items from one of the many Pokéstops that currently dot the in-game map.
After downloading the game I initially didn’t think that I would be caught in its addictive grip. Although I might like Pokémon, the game sounded like it catered for kids. Boy, was I wrong.
After walking down the street and into a nearby park a wild Pidgeotto appeared which I then quickly caught. After some more walking, I spotted a Rattata that jumped at me and as you can guess I caught him as well.
You see herein lies the addictive part of the game, without realising it I kept walking and looking for the next Pokémon to capture, and the next, and the next (you get the picture).
As the Pokémon tagline proudly states “gotta catch them all”, and catch them all I would.
I’ve been playing for three days now (in-between server issues) and have discovered that as a father the game also helped me bond with my 5-year-old daughter as we found ourselves going on numerous walks trying to catch more Pokémon for our ever-growing collection. There have been various occasions where she would scream frantically at me (almost giving me a heart attack) that a Pokemon had popped up on my phone, as we couldn’t let it escape.
We’ve even met some of our neighbours for the first time as we discovered that they were also out on a Pokémon capturing expedition.
Another fun and integral part of the game is that it not only forces you to get up and walk around a bit, it also helps you discover places you would not have normally visited. Pokémon inhabit certain areas. Sure, you can stay in your house and capture from there but you will probably end up with loads of Geodudes clogging your inventory.
By walking around, you enter areas where you can find new types of Pokémon. For instance, we don’t live near a body of water (river, lake or sea), if I want to capture a water-based Pokémon I would need to walk or travel to a nearby body of water.
In the end, I found that although I have become, let’s just say a little addicted to the collecting aspect of the game, I discovered the most enjoyable part for me was the time spent bonding with my daughter while trying to capture a new Pokémon. I would have never guessed that I would have so much fun running around our neighbourhood chasing invisible creatures (some of our neighbours must think that I’m crazy by now).
In its current state, the game is a bit unstable as we’ve encountered lots of server outages. Hopefully, Niantic will be able to sort out these issues. On that note, I need to go for a walk as I still need to find that elusive Kadabra that I have seen lurking around our neighbourhood.
Below is a demonstration video from E3 2016 for Pokémon Go.