A few strange things happened to me yesterday. I was walking round town and looked over the road to see a guy on the other side of the zebra crossing holding his phone up pointed roughly in my direction. He kept it held up as we passed on the zebra crossing and as I looked round to see what was happening I spotted what looked like a map with a character walking on it.
OK, I don’t get it, but never mind.
Then I looked at my phone mid-afternoon and found 91 unread WhatsApp messages. Ninety one. I’m not popular, so 91 messages at all, let alone in something like half an hour, is quite strange.
It was my football team discussing Pokémon Go, and the fact that some were only going to training so that they could find Pokémon somewhere else.
Now, Pokémon was a little after my time, so to speak. However, the phenomenon has always intrigued me – I was super-proud to find all of them on Google Maps in 2014.
So I downloaded the latest game and gave it a go. The app is free which I was surprised about. There are in app purchases to buy coins to get things like Poké balls and incense. It’s not difficult to spot other opportunities to monetise though, given how the app uses geolocation.
Another technicality to think about is your phone usage. I’ve probably only been playing for 20-30 minutes and it’s used 6MB of data and 24% of my iPhone 6S Plus battery. That’s a lot, especially for people on limited data plans.
However, before we have to think about all that too much, we should focus on the fun stuff!
It is so simple! Basically you just walk around with what is essentially Google Maps and look to find the Pokémon in your surroundings. The interface shows you which Pokémon are near you, with a number of feet next to them that reduce from three to zero as you get right on top of them.
As you walk up to them, the app takes control of your phone’s camera and you get to see the Pokémon in front of you.
I think it might have a few glitches. Weedle, for example, was hiding in my garden shed. I had to get the key to find it.
I wonder how much trespassing there is going to be as a result of people chasing the next one! This little blighter was behind a hedge in field:
This one was in someone’s garden, and I was pointing my phone at it:
On my way out, I found myself wanting to get something so that I could put my phone on my windscreen while driving so I could spot nearby Pokémon and then realised that this would be staggeringly dangerous! (Although making a GPS part of the app… Now that would be something.)
Something that may well prove irritating is how and when you can catch rare Pokémon. I get annoyed by games where I have to get x amount of y to get z, and I think that will be the case here.
The other strange thing was that I found my myself wandering around. I was walking, and getting a bit of exercise. Yes, fine it was only a few hundred metres chasing waypoints, but still. Of all things that I thought could make people exercise more, I wouldn’t have thought that it was Pokémon.
Stranger things have happened though.