Have you been playing Pokemon Go? The free app was first released in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, and has since spread to the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and 26 other countries. Nintendo developed Pokémon Go with Niantic, the company behind another augmented reality game called Ingress. Augmented reality (AR) games are played in the real world environment and are augmented by game elements. In Ingress, players use Google Maps to locate portals. Pokémon Go uses real-life location to find Pokéstops and Gyms.
When I started playing Ingress four months ago, it was because I had heard that Niantic was working on Pokémon Go. I wanted an idea of how the app would function, and found the concept of AR interesting. Today, I am a level 11 trainer and member of Team Instinct!
As soon as the app became available in the United States (officially available, not the APK download), I started my Pokémon adventure. I chose Bulbasaur as my starter Pokémon, and walked around the neighborhood for two hours that night. It turns out our neighborhood is a regular hot spot for Pokémon! We found everything from Weedles and Caterpies to Pidgeys, Spearows, Eevees and Pikachu.
Since Ingress portals were turned into Pokéstops or Gyms, we knew the local places to visit. Pokéstops award players with items every five minutes, and Gyms let players battle other teams and win control of the Gym. At level 5, we visited the local Gym and chose Team Instinct (Yellow). The other teams are Team Mystic (Blue) and Team Valor (Red). There are short blurbs for each team, but they don’t matter too much in the grand scheme of things. Aside from who controls a Gym, they don’t really affect gameplay.
The most remarkable thing about the app is how it is bringing people outside together. I’ve never seen so many people walking around the park with their friends (or making new ones). The waterfront was full of kids, teens and adults alike walking outside, playing Pokémon Go. You might scoff because they are all on their phones, but I don’t. Pokémon Go isn’t the first mobile app in existence. People are already on their smartphones more and more each day. This is an app that encourages people to get up and take a walk outside.
I’ve also seen the app bringing more players into Ingress. A lot of new players are completing their training and interacting with local Ingress players. And just because I started Pokémon Go doesn’t mean I stopped playing Ingress, either. I am alternating between the two – Ingress when I am out and about, and Pokémon Go when I take my walk outside. Just yesterday we drove down to the track to visit the Pokéstops clustered there. After several laps, I went from zero to 100 Poké Balls!
And there was a Wifi hotspot, so I even saved on data. From what I can tell so far, the app itself doesn’t use that much data. It does take a toll on your battery, though.
So do you play Pokémon Go? What level and team are you? And what’s your best catch so far?