Tuesday, August 22, 2017

'Pokémon Go' Isn't Dead Yet

We all know Pokémon Go took the world by storm last year. For the entire summer, it was all anyone could talk about. Whether it was stories about mass crowds going after special Pokémon at iconic sites, people trespassing, or the amounts of people engaging, it was everywhere.

There were a lot of positives to the game, which often were not highlighted by the media coverage. Especially in smaller towns, the way it fostered an environment of community was incredible.

Of course, as the excitement wore off, and everyone and their mother had taken over the same gyms 500 times, and had a bag full of Pidgeys and Ratatas, the game kind of faded away. For many of us, several feet of snow was the biggest deterrent, but by the time it all melted, there weren’t enough new developments to really push us back into it.

But then, Niantic did something incredible: they introduced a new generation of Pokémon, started hosting more events, upgraded the gym system, added more gyms and Pokéstops, and essentially revamped the game.

While it’s certainly not oozing popularity the way it was last year, there is a core group of people who are still actively playing. There is also a number of people who avoided it because of the hype last year, but started playing since the latest improvements.

If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go yet, or weren’t really interested enough to find out what it is, the concept itself is pretty cool. The game is a mobile app combining augmented reality with the popular Nintendo game, allowing players to catch Pokémon in real time and in real places, collect items, and even engage in battles with others throughout the world.

There are several perks to the game, the most obvious of which is it gets people moving. Last summer, when we had far more time on our hands, my husband and I walked an average of 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) a night! By the time fall rolled around, I had calves of steel.

The locations to find Pokémon and other facets aren’t limited only to popular monuments, but are stretched out through natural habitats as well. Where I live, we have a beautiful 10-kilometre boardwalk around a local conservation lake. There are a few Pokéstops dispersed along the trail, as well as many different Pokémon, the best of which are the Magikarps, as they are hard to come by around here and you need so many in order to evolve into a Gyarados.

Another great thing about the game is it encourages everyone to get out, get connected, and meet more people. One of the biggest comments I’ve heard is it has provided a way for people with social anxiety disorders and agoraphobia to get out in a way that is comfortable for them. It’s not always about needing to socialize; often people just randomly run into each other and end up chasing down Pokémon, battling gyms, or going to raids as a group.

The introduction of raids has probably been one of the best actual in-game features. Though battling whoever has a gym can be pretty fun, once you’ve won that gym a number of times, the novelty wears off. You only really get something out of it if you keep the gym for 24 hours, so there aren’t a lot of perks.

Raids, however, offer a multifaceted purpose:
  • You’re not just battling another player’s Pokémon and then taking over a gym, you’re battling a Pokémon that gets you stuff and gives you the opportunity to catch it. Often, they are creatures that aren’t quite as easily found or evolved, so it’s a great way to build up your Pokémon collection and increase your levels. 
  • You get more experience points, helping you level up faster than catching Pokémon in the wild, spinning Pokéstops, or hatching eggs.
  • Legen--wait for it--daries! LEGENDARIES! This has been both the most exciting change to the game AND the most frustrating. Raids with legendaries happen less frequently and they are much harder to catch, with just a 3% chance of keeping them in your Pokéball. You also only have a limited number of special balls to capture them with, and a limited amount of time.
These new features do take some level of coordination, especially for the legendaries, as you need a large group of people in order to defeat them. But this also encourages a lot of community participation, and can make things exciting. If you have too many people, it often works out to split into teams based on your Pokémon Go affiliation, so the Mystics, Valours, and Instincts group together to get more items and a higher chance of catching the creature.

Niantic is promising even more exciting features as well, including the release of another Legendary, Mewtew!

If you’ve been looking for something to motivate you to get outside, while having fun, now’s a good time to get involved. Best thing? If you hate it, just uninstall it, and you never have to think of it again.

Have you been playing Pokémon Go since the recent updates? What are your thoughts?


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