So, please remember that I can be a bit of a man-child and therefore enjoy playing an augmented reality game where I walk around the real world looking at my phone in order to catch little creatures in balls and make them battle each other in gyms.
For those not aware of this world, the game has a levelling system that finishes when you reach level 40. They release a new generation of Pokémon every year. There’s usually one new one every month apart from that in Raid battles, and at least one new collection of shiny ones every month from Community Days.
That means that there’s not always a lot of content to keep people occupied, so they start second accounts. People also start second accounts so that they can play the parts of the game designed for interaction by themselves. This gives them the type of advantage that means that having two accounts, or certainly playing them both at the same time, is against the Terms and Conditions that everyone signs up for at the start.
Those multi-accounters that give and excuse say that it reinvigorates the game for them. They’d got bored before and their enthusiasm has been reignited.
With that in mind, I started a second account to see what it was all about. That was two weeks ago.
Account started, and Professor Willow offers me the chance to catch my first Pokémon. Last time it was Charmander, so this time I went for Bulbasaur. First one in the bag (or the Dex) and there are shadows everywhere telling me that there are all these new pocket monsters to catch.
The thing is, they’re not new. I’ve had them all before. There were occasions, for the rare Pokémon or my favourite ones, that I would make an effort to go and find them, and I did get particularly excited to see the silhouette of Egg Pokémon Chansey on my nearby list.
Any excitement was short lived though, and not just because of the repetition but because the effort required to get your newly acquired Mon up to the standard you’re used to is hard work. I’ve been playing since the game came out, which I think is two and a half years ago. I’ve put effort in, to the extent that anyone puts “effort” in to something that they enjoy, to catch everything and research and tactics and all that stuff.
That juice doesn’t feel worth the squeeze for that little bit of excitement when I have something that I’ve worked at and which I still enjoy.
And that’s where multi-accounting reasons tend to fall down. No-one I know who starts a second account gives up on their original one. It doesn’t get retired, they just get another handset, set-up the hotspot and use both, at the same time, together. So it’s not boredom, then, if you still can’t let go of the part that’s boring.
I tried playing two accounts together and, honestly, it’s tedious. For a start, you’re walking round with two phones on your hand looking pretentious let alone ridiculous and I’m yet to find anything in the game that I find more enjoyable by myself. The observation I made the other day is the multi-accounter playing with one phone in his pocket, using the Pokémon Go Plus accessory to catch the Pokémon for him. Again, not boredom with the original account then but maybe, in this instance, that satisfaction of letting a computer build another level 40 account for him.
What playing the accounts simultaneously does, though, is give you an advantage in gyms when you can attack or defend with two, rather than one. It also gives you an advantage in your main account, being able to trade rubbish Pokémon between the two accounts in the hope that they become “lucky” and better. That’s really the only tangible benefit and the only benefit that I found that carried its amusement value over from regular playing.
The game keeps you on a linear path so you’re doing all the same things again, just under a different name. And when that gets stale, what happens then? Do it again?
My experience over the last two weeks leads me to believe that the reason people play more than one account is two fold – to cheat and to show off. I found it an effort, and a game shouldn’t be. I think my experiment is over.
I wondered whether this could be a metaphor for other things. Starting again felt like a waste of the effort I’d put in initially. Starting again wasn’t as exciting and interesting and fun once the initial fun and excitement and interest of actually starting had worn off, and it wore off quickly. I was just repeating, and I could repeat ad infinitum but doing the thing that I enjoy over and over at the same time as doing that thing was just unnecessary effort.
I’m not saying that new starts aren’t refreshing or a good idea, but only if you do something differently.