Unless you’ve been living inside a red and white ball, you’ve probably heard of Pokémon Go. The original Pokémon RPG (role-playing game) video game was released way back in the ancient times of 1996. Beginning as a game for the original Game Boy, it quickly expanded into card trading games, TV shows, movies, more video games, and even a Monopoly board game.
If you happen to be like me and only just now catching up (or you want to know what all the kids are doing) here are some questions and answers.*
So what the heck is/are Pokémon?
The name is a combination of the words “pocket monster.” Players – called “trainers” – find and collect wild Pokémon, and help them evolve into new Pokémon. Trainers also battle their Pokémon, using their Pokémon’s unique characteristics, gaining experience points, to become Gym Leaders and ultimately, the chance to become a tournament champion.
What is Pokémon Go?
Pokémon Go is a “free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game.”
It’s a game that you can play on your phone or other mobile device that places you (via your avatar) within the game based on your location, superimposing the game world onto the real world.
The company that created Pokémon Go used location data (landmarks, photos, etc.) from another of their games, Ingress, to create the world within the game. So, if you happen to be standing outside Davenport Public Library Eastern Branch, then that’s where you are in the game.
Why are all these people standing around outside staring at their phones? It’s a little creepy.
That’s the augmented reality part of the game. While you see people glued to their phones in an empty field, outside a building, or wherever, they’re actually experiencing the location within the game.
Lots of public places have been made into important locations in the game (more on that later). Players must be within a certain distance to interact with whatever is at the location. And since the game is so popular, some locations have experienced very high traffic. For some businesses (and libraries!) this has been a boon. For other locations, not so much.
Just be glad you’re not this guy.
Isn’t this game dangerous?
It’s true that there have been some horror stories – true and not – about people getting hurt, lost, or finding some terrible things while tracking Pokémon. The most important thing to remember when playing is to pay attention to your surroundings. Believe me, it can be hard. But, the game offers vibration and sound alerts so you can keep your phone in your pocket while you walk. USE THEM – or be eaten by Gyarados!
And it should go without saying, don’t play and drive.
I heard that Pokémon Go is reading players’ emails …
Not exactly. The concern is that players who created their accounts by linking their Google/Gmail accounts were granting very broad access to their accounts. That has since been fixed, but if you’re still concerned, sign up with a Pokémon Trainer Club ID – it takes a little longer, but you won’t have to worry.
Do I really have to walk?
Yup – that’s the “go” in Pokémon Go! If you want to get cool new Pokémon and hatch eggs you will be walking. The game can tell the difference between riding in a car or even biking fast. But it’s a good thing! You get to experience new places you might never have seen before! Meet new people! Exercise!
Unless you have a Roomba, a turntable or a cooperative pet, that is.
OK, so how to I start?
Firstly, down the game from the App Store or Google Play. Once it’s up and running, sign in using you Google ID, or get a Trainer Club ID.
When you choose your trainer name and appearance, be careful! You CANNOT change either after you confirm!
UPDATE 7/31/16 – An update for Pokémon Go! (1.1.0) now allows trainers to change the appearance of their avatars!
After Prof. Willow’s introduction, you’re dropped into a fairly sparse map. Your surroundings should reflect major aspects in your surroundings, like roads, rivers/lakes, buildings and so on.
On the screen, you’ll see what looks like green confetti or leaves nearby. Those are Pokémon! Once you get close enough (your trainer’s radius is the pulsing purple circle around you) the Pokémon will reveal themselves. Tap on them, and you’ll go mano a Pokémon.
Tossing the Poké Ball correctly takes some practice. If you find the “virtual reality” setting too distracting, you can turn it off by sliding the AR switch at the top. The higher the Pokémon’s CP (combat points) the more difficult it will be to catch. The rings around the Pokémon will give some idea how where and when to toss the Poké Ball. When it’s large and green, toss! Yellow rings mean it will be more tricky, and orange even more so. Pokémon with higher CP (100+) will often break out of the Poké Ball and you’ll have to catch them again. Sometimes, they’ll grow weary of your attempts and run away.
Pokémon can break out?
Yes, once you catch one, it tries three times to get out. If they can’t escape, you get to keep them.
That’s … a bit grim.
What’s up with PokéStops and Gyms?
PokéStops are where you can pick up more Poké Balls, and an occasional bonus item, like reviving potion, eggs, razzberries and so on. PokéStops are usually located at some kind of landmark (although the term “landmark” is used loosely). You have to be within a certain distance to interact with them.
Sometimes, you may see a PokéStop surrounded by pink confetti or petals. That means that some kind soul has set a lure and, hopefully, more Pokémon will come close enough to catch.
Gyms are where trainers can pit their Pokémon against each other in battle to win the Gym, earn points and train up their Pokémon. You have to reach level 5 to enter and view a gym.
What Team should I pick?
That’s entirely up to you! If you have friends playing, you might want to choose the same team so that you can gain and keep control of Gyms. Or, if you live near a Gym that is consistently held by one team, you can join them and help defend it.
<cough>Team Mystic <cough>
How do I identify and keep track of all the Pokémon I’ve caught?
In the game, tap on the Poké Ball icon, then tap “Pokémon” from there you can see the Pokémon that you’ve caught, see how much CP they have and evolve and power up. The Pokédex is like a Rolodex (GET IT?) for the Pokémon you’ve seen and collected. It gives descriptions, strengths and weaknesses and each Pokémon’s evolutionary pattern.
Where are some places that I can go to catch Pokémon?
The Davenport Public Library Main and Fairmount Branches are PokéStops , and Eastern Avenue is a PokéStop and a Gym.
If you’re over 21, you can participate in the Quad Cities Pokémon Go Pub Crawl.
According to David Heitz, the downtown Moline riverfront, Rock Island arts and entertainment district, the Village of East Davenport and Avenue of the Cities are good places to find Pokémon. In Davenport, Vander Veer Park is a very popular place!
You can also check out the Pokémon Go QC Reddit for tips and maps.
What about the tracking thing in the bottom right hand corner?
That is supposed to tell you what Pokémon are in the area, and allow you track them. Unfortunately, the tracking feature does not work well. But it’s nice to see what’s in your vicinity.
UPDATE 7/31/16 – An update for Pokémon Go!(1.1.0) has removed the footprints from the “Nearby” menu, presumably until they can get it work properly.
What the heck do I do with all these Rattatas, Pidgeies, and Weedles!?!
Even though it can get annoying, it’s worth it to keep collecting the common Pokémon. The more you have, the more candy and stardust you get (which you use to evolve your Pokémon). If you have too many, you can transfer them to Prof. Willow and get one Pokémon candy in return.
The game isn’t working, and/or my battery is dead.
Yeah, you’re not the only one. Pokémon Go has been plagued with slow and broken servers since it was released. It also uses up wireless bandwidth, so slow internet connections are also to blame. If you’re wondering if it’s you or the game server, try here: http://cmmcd.com/PokemonGo/.
The game also has some battery saving settings, too. But remember that you must have the game open if you want alerts and to count your steps. Bring a charger!
I need more information!
- Pokémon Go Homepage
- How to find Pokémon Go’s gyms and PokéStops – Polygon
- ‘Pokemon Go’ Maps of the Quad-Cities
- Pokemon Go Official Quad Cities Chapter
- PokéVision Shows You the Real-Time Locations of Pokémon In Pokémon Go – Lifehacker
- Tips for playing Pokémon Go – Kotaku
Anything else you’d like to know? Would you like to show off how awesome you are? Let us know in the comments!
* I’m not an expert, but I am a librarian, playing as LibbyLibrary!