What is Pokémon Go? You may be thinking to yourself that this game seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Well, actually, you’re right! Pokémon Go was launched at the beginning of July 2016 and grew massively popular within just a few days. How popular? Well, the mobile app has hit the top of the App stores, and the Pokémon Go server has shut down several times, due to the high number of people registering to play the game. In just over a week, it has amassed enough users to rival Twitter for number of active daily users.
So what is this massively popular game, and why is it so popular? Pokémon Go is a free-to-play augmented reality mobile game for iOS and Android devices. It’s the first game to be launched (at this level of popularity) where players actually have to go out into the real world in order to play the simulated game.
Pokémon Go is built in a similar way to the Pokémon games from the 90’s, in that your main objectives are to explore, capture Pokémon, and battle others. You can also purchase upgrades and evolve your Pokémon as well.
Please note: I am not going to assess whether or not Pokémon Go is good or bad (there’s plenty of conversations happening over on Facebook about it). I’m just going to explain what this recent phenomenon is.
The developers have utilized a massive database to make this game much more interesting. In the game, you cannot sit on your couch and play – you have to physically walk around to different locations in order to make progress in the game. Here are a few ways that you can play this game and interact with the real world:
- Finding Pokémon: They are hiding everywhere. You can go walking literally anywhere (in the real world) and try to find them. There are a few different ways to see if Pokémon are nearby, such as looking for leaves that are rattling in the distance (on your screen’s map), which notifies you that there are Pokémon hiding in that place. However, you can find them by walking around in your house, car, school, church, gym, etc. They are everywhere.
- Pokéstops: These locations are based on landmarks and special locations in the real world. For example, these locations could include parks, buildings, local restaurants, churches, landmarks, libraries, tourist attractions, lakes, and more. The game uses an extensive database that was created previously in another game called Ingress, and each Pokéstop has an actual picture of the location. At these Pokéstops, you can collect items to help you move further in the game. Players will often meet other players at these Pokéstops, making the game more interactive in the real world.
- Gyms: Think of these places in terms of “capture the flag,” except your goal is to defeat the other players’ Pokémon, take over the gym, and defend it yourself. There are three teams in the game: red, blue, and yellow. Once you reach level 5, you join one of these teams and begin fighting other other players’ Pokémon at these gyms, often teaming up with other players on your team to take over a gym. Once the gym has been conquered, you then place a Pokémon there to defend it. These gyms are located near prominent places in the real world. Many people are reporting that these gyms are located in places such as malls, churches, and businesses.
Some people are already saying that this game may play a significant factor in reducing childhood obesity. Will it stick around and grow in popularity? We will certainly find out.
Not sure if your kids should play this game? Take a look at this article: Is Pokémon Go Safe for Kids?