If youâ€™ve been out and about at all in recent weeks, youâ€™ve undoubtedly noticed hordes of people walking around, eyes glued to their phones, clearly on the hunt for something. While some of them may be on Facebook or Instagram, many are likely deep in the thralls of PokÃ©mon Go, the latest iteration of the popular PokÃ©mon video game series. Unlike past games, however, this new app, which is free for smartphones, encourages users to actually search the world around them for the creatures, which range from the adorable to the intimidating.
PokÃ©mon Go follows a long history of the PokÃ©mon franchise, which began in 1996 with the release of the original games for Game Boy as well as the coveted trading cards. Iâ€™ll admit I was an unabashed fan in my boyhood, and my mother can affirm that I was ceaselessly entranced with the world of PokÃ©mon with my Game Boy constantly in my pocket, the VHS tapes of the television show regularly scattered around the house, and my binder always in need of new pages to keep up with the cards I was collecting.
After a few years doing all I could to collect all 151 PokÃ©mon in card form as well as in digital form on Red, Yellow and Blue Versions, I fell out of touch with this fictional universe, but the franchise kept going, expanding on the 151 original creatures with even more. And then, in July of this year, developer Niantic in conjunction with The PokÃ©mon Company released PokÃ©mon Go for iOS and Android devices, revolutionizing the franchise.
The premise is simple: just as in the Game Boy games, users aim to search the world for rare and exotic PokÃ©mon, which are at the most basic level fanciful insects and animals, and strive to collect all of them while ascending in rank to become leaders of area gyms. But this time, the world is the real world.
Using GPS, users actually track PokÃ©mon in the world around them; this canâ€™t be played solely from the couch â€“ players have to actually get up, get out and hunt for the PokÃ©mon using the â€œnearbyâ€ feature to see whatâ€™s where and how far away.
Though I used to bow at the temple of PokÃ©mon, I havenâ€™t visited with the franchise since 2000 or so, and consequently, I wasnâ€™t much interested in the new game. However, after giving into some peer pressure, I downloaded it, and I havenâ€™t looked back since.
While most of my friends are interested in battling their PokÃ©mon at the gyms, which are located throughout the city, Iâ€™m more concerned, currently, with simply catching and collecting. With over 150 to find, itâ€™s a time-consuming endeavor and one Iâ€™m striving to balance with other aspects of my life. Itâ€™s hard not to open the app every time Iâ€™m somewhere new or somewhere I donâ€™t go every day. And the temptation of using it while driving is exceedingly dangerous. But when played at the appropriate times, itâ€™s a whole lot of fun.
Though the more common PokÃ©mon such as Pidgeys and Rattatas can be found pretty much anywhere, there are certain places in town where you can find some of the rarest and most sought-after. The Jeffersonville RiverStage is widely known to be one of the havens of PokÃ©mon-catching with the less common Clefairy, Magnemite and Machop making regular appearances. Hitmonchan can often be found in Cherokee Park. Lickitung has been seen on Dixie Highway.
If certain PokÃ©mon arenâ€™t where you want them, you can always turn on a lure module, which attracts PokÃ©mon of all types to your location for 30 minutes. When you inevitably run out of PokÃ©balls, visiting a nearby PokÃ©stop, spaced more frequently across town than gyms, is a must to acquire more items.
Yes, the game is as simple and â€“ in all honesty â€“ as nerdy as it sounds. But itâ€™s also as fun as it sounds. It is absolutely unreal to be walking around The Highlands getting closer and closer to a Starmie and then look across the street and see a group of people doing the exact same thing. Recently, a video of a horde of New Yorkers storming Central Park to capture a wild Vaporeon went viral partially because of the general craze but also because of the sheer unity wrought by the game.
PokÃ©mon Go is bringing people together. People of all ages, races, genders, socioeconomic statuses and more are coming together to build their collections and gain experience points in new and exciting ways every day. Yes, this is another distraction on our phones, but itâ€™s also a wildly innovative game that is getting gamers and non-gamers alike together and outside, enjoying each other and the world around them in the hunt to catch them all. VT