The Seaport thanks Sam Mehnert, lifelong resident of Tuckerton, for writing this guest blog post to help us understand the phenomenon that is Pokemon Go. Sam often visits the Seaport with her friends and family. In August, Sam will be heading off to West Virginia University to study Forensic and Investigative Science with a concentration in Chemistry.
On July 6th, a new and highly anticipated mobile game known as Pokémon GO was released for both iPhone and Android devices. Taking North America by storm, the game gained instant popularity, but some people are still unfamiliar with this game, and take it to be just another one of the many Pokémon games already in stores.
However, this new resurgence of interest in a Pokémon is not just because it is a new game—it is a new type of game that forces players to go outside and explore the world around them. Known as an augmented reality (AR) game, Pokémon GO utilizes both the camera and GPS signal of a player’s phone to immerse them in a real-world Pokémon game. Essentially, an AR game takes a person’s current view of the world and alters it in real-time to look a little different.
Once signed in, a player will be taken through a tutorial and a character-creation screen. At a point in the tutorial, the player will be instructed to catch a Pokémon from the ones surrounding them. As with all Pokémon games, the first three you see are what known as “starter” Pokémon. In this game, the starters are Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle.
But beware! Even though they are all currently surrounding you, you can only choose ONE to catch at this time. There will be other opportunities to catch the other starters, but they may not be as common as other Pokémon, so choose wisely! I chose Charmander, and have not encountered another one since then, but I have caught a couple Bulbasaurs and a Wartortle (the evolved version of Squirtle).
Whatever starter is chosen does not impact the game as far as I can tell. The only way that it impacts the game is that it gives you your first Pokémon registered to your Pokédex, your encyclopedia on Pokémon.
Once the tutorial is complete, the player is now free to explore the world of Pokémon!
By going outside and walking around, a player will encounter more Pokémon at random. When a Pokémon appears on the phone screen, the player must tap the Pokémon and they will be taken to screen like this:
The player must swipe the Pokéball up toward the Pokémon to catch it, as will be shown in the tutorial. Just remember, you do not have unlimited Pokéballs, so aim carefully!
If the AR switch in the top right corner is turned off, the player will simply have to catch the Pokémon as previously stated. However, by turning on the AR switch, the player will have to take aim with their phone’s camera and do the same thing, adding a layer of difficulty (it’s not really much harder) and immersion.
Personally, I enjoy the AR feature, although it can get silly if you play inside of a building.
TRACKING AND ATTRACTING POKÉMON:
Pokémon GO does not throw Pokémon after Pokémon at you, though. You have to go outside and walk around! In the bottom right corner of the screen is a little tab with some Pokémon and Pokémon silhouettes. By clicking on this tab it enlarges it, showing you how far away a Pokémon is using little footprints.
If there are no footprints, the Pokémon is very close, generally in range to be caught and should appear shortly (although on occasion it might not), and three is the farthest away. The Pokémon in the top left of the list is the closest, and the bottom right is the farthest.
Another way to catch Pokémon more quickly are with lures and incenses. I have never used a lure, as I have never found one (to be explained later), but I do know they help not only the player that utilized it, but any other players within range of the lure. Unlike lures, incenses only help the player that used it for thirty minutes, causing Pokémon to appear more often.
As a last resort, desperate players can walk around to these patches of what appears to be rustled leaves that pop up every so often. Walking to these locations increases the chance that you will encounter a Pokémon, but does not guarantee their appearance.
POKÉSTOPS/GETTING MORE ITEMS:
Oh no! I have no more Pokéballs! What do I do?
Remember how I said the game forces the player to go outside and walk around? This is where that happens. When you run out of Pokéballs, you have to walk to a Pokéstop. These are indicated by little, floating blue cubes that are stationary and remain in the same location. These can be accesses several times a day, although they do have a cool-down time. It’s not long at all though! I walked to the Tuckerton Seaport to stop by several Pokéstops, and then I walked to a few others nearby. By the time I walked to them, the ones by the Seaport had already reset! Of course, I got them again on my way home.
Once the player is in range of a Pokéstop, indicated by the cube changing into the shape of a Pokéball, the player must spin the picture of whatever the Pokéstop is. The Tuckerton Seaport, the Historic Andrews/Bartlett Homestead, the Sea Captains of Tuckerton Memorial, the Antique Boat, the Hunting Shanty, Joe Dayton’s Sawmill, the Historic Little Red Saltbox, and the Historic Tucker’s Island Lighthouse are all Pokéstops very close to the Tuckerton Seaport.
Pokéstops can give a player several different items including Pokéballs, revives and potions, Eggs, and several other useful items, which are essential to playing the game.
Nearby the Seaport is a World War Native American Memorial Statue, but this isn’t a Pokéstop—this is a gym. To those unfamiliar with the classic Pokémon games, gyms are places where trainers battle their Pokémon to see who is the best. In this case, gyms are claimed by one of three teams: Instinct, Mystic, or Valor, indicated by a yellow, blue, or red color, respectively. I joined Mystic with a group of friends, as we never saw a lot of gyms claimed by the blue team. You can join a team at level five.
In order to “claim” a gym for your team, you have to walk to a gym. Once in range, you can battle the Pokémon defending the gym. To fight, simply tap to use your basic attack, and once the blue bars fill up, hold down for your special attack to deal more damage. Swipe left and right to dodge. This can be very difficult, and you will have to beat the gym several times to claim it. By claiming a gym, you can get free items. It has been shown to be rather difficult to hold a gym, however, as players are very competitive.
TIPS AND PRECAUTIONS:
Those are the basics of the game, and while people are still figuring out other aspects of the game and the creators are still tweaking it a bit, I would like to give some advice for players, both for staying safe and for having fun playing the game.
Tip 1: When and where you are DOES affect what type of Pokémon appear. While much of player strategy can be considered speculation at this point, as the game is still very new, some strategy seems to work out well, such as different environments presenting the player with different types of Pokémon. If you are near water, it is more likely that you will encounter more water-type Pokémon. Ghost Pokémon seem to appear more at night. So, if you are looking for specific types of Pokémon, try different environments!
Tip 2: Catch whatever appears if you have enough Pokéballs. Catching several of the same Pokémon is, believe it or not, a good thing! While doing so allows you to gain experience points, earn medals, and level your character up, which allows you to encounter better Pokémon, it also allows you to level your Pokémon up! By transferring your duplicates to the Professor by scrolling down on your Pokémon’s profile, you can transfer it to the Professor and gain a Pokémon candy! Be warned! You cannot get that Pokémon back once you transfer it! So if you accidentally transfer a Pokémon with a high Combat Power (CP), you can’t get it back!
Tip 3: Turn on battery saver! There is an option to turn on a battery saving option. Tap on the Pokéball, and then hit “Settings”. Check the box that says “Battery Saver”, and when your phone is angled down, the screen will dim greatly to a screensaver.
Tip 4: Tip: Tracking is tricky and only for those who really want to walk around and find Pokémon. With the Pokémon locator tab open, tap on whatever Pokémon you want to track, but DO NOT CLOSE THE TAB! You will not be able to see if you are getting closer to the Pokémon if you do this. Instead, walk in a direction and if the Pokémon is approaching the top left position going right to left in the list, you are getting closer. If not, try another direction! This can be very tedious depending on how far away the Pokémon is.
Tip 5: Don’t worry if the servers are down. They’ll be back up quickly! Completely close the app and try again a bit later.
Safety Tip 1: Do not go out alone at night. Seriously. In the few days that the game has been out, there have already been reports of people being lured to places by predators late at night and running into trouble. Try to avoid going outside late at night to that empty park by your house, but rather use an incense at your house and make sure that if you are out at night for any reason, stay with a group of friends!
Safety Tip 2: Don’t break the law, even for a rare Pokémon. While you may think you’re just playing a game and not harming anyone by jumping a fence to get into a park for a quick Pokémon hunt, you’re breaking the law and it does not matter that you are playing a game.
Safety Tip 3: DO. NOT. PLAY. AND. DRIVE. People on social media are posting how they are playing the game and driving, and considering the game is very involved, this is VERY dangerous and VERY illegal. Many people have been pulled over for playing the game while driving. Not only does this come with the threat of a ticket, but you risk your life, whoever else is in the car’s life, and the life of anybody you might hit. Please do not use your cell phone while driving!
Safety Tip 4: Watch where you’re walking. Even though the game warns players to stay aware of their surroundings, please watch where you are going as people have already been ignoring this warning.
The game has been very fun for many, and playing it with friends makes it an even better experience. Stay safe and have fun becoming the best Pokémon trainer there ever was!