What is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon is a franchise that was created in 1995 by Satoshi Tajiri and is owned by Nintendo. The franchise has spawned many movies, a cartoon series, and most notably a video game series. Since 1996, Pokemon has released 27 hand-held games alone. But Pokemon Go is something completely different. Pokemon Go is an app for iPhones and Androids created by Niantic that lets people “catch” Pokemon in the real world using augmented reality. The app uses GPS to track the “trainer’s” location and spawns creatures based on the environment around them. However, it’s not like the hand-held games where the Pokemon come to you. With this app, you have to go to the Pokemon.

Pokemon Go is a gaming app, but it also functions as a fitness app, as well. Pokemon Go forces people to go outside and search for Pokemon, just like trainers do in the hand-held video game. Pokemon will not allows appear in the same place, so the user must go out, whether it be around their neighborhood, the city, or the beach, to find as many Pokemon as they can find. As the users travel, they will encounter 151 different kinds of Pokemon, ranging from the iconic mouse Pokemon Pikachu to the elusive dragon Pokemon, Dragonite.

Users will try to catch these creatures using Poke Balls, devices used for catching wild Pokemon. In order to catch the virtual monsters, users will have to tap on the Pokemon when it appears on their phone and then search the surrounding area using their device. Users will then use their supplied Poke Balls by swiping up on the screen, throwing the ball at the virtual monster. Poke Balls, however, are not an unlimited supply. Trainers must find landmarks called “PokeStops” to replenish their supplies. PokeStops are in-game points that are actual locations in reality and gives players useful items to help them continue the search for more Pokemon.

At these PokeStops, players will also receive Pokemon eggs. In the video game, trainers will receive eggs and have to walk a certain distance before the egg hatches. The same concept holds true for Pokemon Go. When you receive and egg, it will have a certain distance attached to it, either two, five, or ten kilometers. Players must walk that predetermined distance in order to hatch the Pokemon hidden in egg. Each distance holds a different set of possible Pokemon to hatch, two kilometers being common Pokemon while ten kilometers hold very rare ones. Its a great incentive to get people outside and moving, because the game only tracks the in-game avatar’s movement, which won’t always move with you.

The in-game avatar is representative of the user, wherever the player goes, the avatar will follow. The game uses both the avatar’s and the user’s actual location and movement to locate nearby Pokemon and to hatch any eggs the trainer may have incubated. However, the avatar will not move if the user happens to be walking around their house. The avatar and the game will only record the players movement if it is significant enough, like talking a walk around the block. This forces the user to actually be active if they want to progress further in the game.

Another feature included in the app is the ability to become a gym leader. On the hand-held, players were trainers who would fight against gym leaders to earn gym badges. In Pokemon Go, all players can be gym leaders if their Pokemon are strong enough. Pokemon Gyms, much like PokeStops, are scattered around the virtual world and are usually placed at monuments, restaurants, and other high traffic areas. At these gyms, players will face Pokemon who were left to guard it by other users. Players will “battle” each other by tapping and swiping the screen until the opposing Pokemon have fainted. Once a player has battled a gym enough times, the guarding Pokemon will be kicked out and the gym will be open to any players in the immediate area. This creates a lot of competition between users, seeing who can control gyms the longest and who truly has the strongest Pokemon.

The main function of the app is to serve as a game, as it has characters and terms that are familiar to people who grew up with the Pokemon franchise. But, by strategically putting these characters and making the novel concept of being able to capture Pokemon in the real world, Niantic made an app that helps people go outside. Users of the app will walk as much as they can to hatch their new egg or to find that illusive Pokemon that is hiding down the block. People will travel to their downtown area to farm at PokeStops and maybe take over a gym while they are at it. The app gets people moving and lets them have fun while doing so. This app makes going out and exercising much more fun.

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