Pokémon Go Explained

Pokémon Go ExplainedA quick and easy guide to the hot new game everyone is playing.

Whether you’ve been on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or just outside in the real world the past couple weeks, there’s a good chance you’ve already heard about the new game, Pokémon Go. Unless you are already familiar with this massively-popular franchise, you may be left wondering just what exactly is going on.

Originally launched by Nintendo in the mid 1990s, Pokémon is a world in which “trainers” explore the entire globe in order to catch a variety of creatures, dragons, monsters and other critters, also known as Pokémon. The trainer’s use these Pokémon to fight in matches against other trainers. In order to win the game, the trainer’s must “catch ‘em all”, so to speak, defeating more prestigious trainers in the process.

Where does Pokémon Go fit into this?

Unlike previous games for Nintendo’s DS systems or other consoles, Pokémon Go is available for free on iOS and Android platforms. The game-play is also slightly different. While you still need to “catch ‘em all” in order to win the game, this version of Pokémon mixes in actual real life with elements of the game, creating an experience of augmented reality for the player.

Another unique feature of the game is that it utilizes your smartphone’s GPS and clock in order to determine when and where particular Pokémon are found in the game. For example, you are likely to find more bug and grass-type Pokémon at the park. Being by a lake or ocean will produce more water types. Nighttime will bring out ghost and fairy-types, and so on. Structured this way, you really do have to travel all around in order catch ‘em all.

The game also utilizes gyms, where master trainers (also known as gym leaders) can be fought, and Pokéstops — hubs based on actual locations, where different trainers can meet. Items that more easily attract Pokémon to these hubs are available as in-app purchases, which is how the game’s developer, Niantic, makes profit on this otherwise free game.

Why is Pokémon Go attracting so many people to it right now?

For starters, it’s practically brand-new, so it’s still a hot new item. Secondly, it’s being offered as a free download, making it available to anyone with a smartphone. Lastly, the Pokémon franchise has been hugely popular since the 90s, amongst kids, teens, and even adults.

Another big draw of the game is the aspect of augmented reality that it brings to the experience. While this is not the first game to try to do this, Pokémon Go has been wildly more successful in its execution. The game’s success is partly because of the franchise’s already existing popularity, but also because it raises the fascinating question of, “What if Pokémon actually existed alongside us in the real world?”

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