With the American release of Pokémon Go, a lot of my Twitter feed has been raving about this game while sharing pictures, comments and critiques about the popular software. The main premise of the game is that you are going outside, walking around to find items, Pokémon and gyms – where you fight other Pokémon trainers.
So, what happens when you can’t just walk around?
There are a lot of reasons why people aren’t able to play the game as intended. It may be safety for one’s self or for property, there have been numerous reports about people stealing smartphones as the players get completely absorbed in the game. It may also be health related, being unable to leave their apartment without assistance, if at all. I am temporarily in the latter camp, although I definitely understand the former. I am currently at home for two weeks on doctor’s orders, on antibiotics where I am supposed to avoid the sun – in summer. I figured I could use a distraction like Pokémon.
Despite it not being available in Europe, I found a way to download it and started the application. Now there are quite a few articles out there talking about how the app has access to your entire Google account – including the ability to delete and send emails, delete things from Google Drive, everything. I haven’t seen this in the permissions or the security settings of my Google account, but I made an alternative, throw-away account on Google just to play it safe. I had been playing on my usual account but after reading a few of these articles decided it wasn’t worth it. Always keep an eye on permissions, folks.
Once you start the game, you meet the Professor. He signs you up as a Trainer, you get to pick between male and female, four skin tones, a few hair colours, etc. It’s not a wide selection of choice, which is somewhat frustrating because you are almost always looking at your character. The Professor helps you catch your first Pokémon and away you go!
So, now what?
What you are able to do is dependent on your position, unfortunately. I’m lucky in that I live in the old part of town and there’s a Pokéstop two doors down and another two doors past that. Depending on how the GPS is behaving, I might be able to get items from both – although it is usually just the closer one. Two or three doors in the other direction is an intersection where there is usually a lot of Pokémon, so depending again on the GPS, I can occasionally capture one or two ones that way. When you’re starting out, a few Pokémon will make their way to you as a matter of course, this has happened on both of my accounts now. If you can get to a Pokéstop as well, great! These will help you get more experience points (EP), Pokéballs and other items that are more used in the Gyms. One of the items that you get by leveling up is a smoke machine, it emits a purple smoke around you that attracts Pokémon, even if you aren’t moving. It runs for about a half hour and if you don’t move at all, it seems to attract one every five minutes.
Developing your Pokémon
You may end up like me and keep getting Rattfratz over and over again, which seems useless, but you can send lower rated Pokémons back to the Professor, getting one of their Bonbons as a reward. If you collect enough Bonbons, you can develop your Pokémon into a stronger Pokémon. Getting the Pokémons that you’ve already seen won’t get you as many EP but will definitely get you 100 and three Bonbons. Due to the Pokéstop nearby, I haven’t come anywhere near running out of Pokéballs yet. Even without one nearby, you should be okay.
Turn off the AR to make it easier to catch the Pokémon, I’ve found that you don’t have to hold up your phone this way, it seems to take less battery and it feels less creepy. When you catch a Pokémon with the AR on, it zooms into an area where the ball landed. Thankfully it is pretty grainy but it has zoomed in on my legs, my crotch, my piano, my notes, my email, everything. Turning off AR may make the game a little more boring but it definitely feels like it is creeping on me less. Who knows if these pictures are getting saved somewhere? On an additional note, with the AR turned off, the Pokémons seem to jump at the screen more. So be prepared for Rattfratz to come lunging at you when you try to catch him.
You get one incubator that’s unlimited, which is great, use that for the 2 kilometer ones and the 3 use incubators for the 5 kilometer eggs. You get eggs from Pokéstops and incubators when you get to certain levels, so don’t worry about buying things. I put eggs in the incubators and then check on them a couple of times a day. It’s not an exact science, even if you walk 5 kilometers, it might only have registered 2 for example. Eggs take forever, even more so when you are playing inside. My trick? Every time I get up to use the washroom or to go to the kitchen, I turn on Pokémon and take it with me. It registers the movements and the GPS sometimes wanders far, far more than I do. This morning alone, it’s picked up 800 meters and I definitely have not left my apartment.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if there isn’t a gym nearby. My best suggestion is to see what ones are close, keep an eye on what colour team seems to be keeping them and join that team. Then, if you do get a chance to train, you might be able to train against someone on your team instead of fighting an opponent right off the bat. Also use things like Google Street View and satellite view to see if there’s a way for you to use the Gym safely. The closest gym to me thankfully has a bench right next to it, so I didn’t get too many weird looks when I was sitting on it for ten minutes. One of the gyms in my area is at a major intersection, so that’s not an option as there’s nowhere for me to sit.
In a nutshell, Pokémon Go is a good game with a few flaws and heavily skewed to mobile people who don’t live in dangerous areas. Hopefully some of my tips help you get more out of the game. (But always check your permissions! Don’t give it access to your full Google account!)