What you need to know about Pokemon Go
In just a few days Nintendo has made a rapid comeback with the release of their first mobile blockbuster, Pokemon Go. You may have seen neighbors lingering in front of your home, experienced 90’s era cartoon characters popping up on social media sites and wondered why people have begun to gather in groups in the neighborhood church parking lot. The answer for all of the above is Pokemon Go.
The free mobile game was downloaded over 7.5 million times in just five days since its release and is generating the game maker an estimated $1.6 million per day on Apple devices alone. Fans of the original game are now in their 30’s striking up an instant audience and giving parents the opportunity to reintroduce some of their favorite characters to their children.
As you work to manage your children’s (and your own) cell phone usage, here are the key things you should be aware of before jumping on board for the game.
How To Play Pokemon Go
Sign ups for the game’s accounts are through the roof, overwhelming the systems registration process. Luckily the work around is signing up using a Google account (more on this later), and within minutes you can dress your very own Pokemon Trainer.
After establishing the gender and outfit on your character you are free to wander the gameplay area. Pokemon Go uses GPS to set your location and bring you into contact with Pokemon for you to capture. The GPS pulls in real world data, allowing you to explore actual places throughout your neighborhood.
As you travel, your phone will alert when you are within range of a Pokemon. Using a technique called augmented reality gaming the Pokemon character will appear on your screen using your camera – looking like the character is actually joining you in your living room or porch. From this screen you can choose to take a photo of the little gremlin, or capture it by throwing a Pokemon ball with your finger. The theme of the game is you HAVE to catch them all.
It may take several swipes before the Pokemon is secured soundly in your PokeDex. Each player is given several balls to begin the game and you will receive more as you progress through the levels. You can also collect balls by visiting areas of the game called PokeStops. If you do not want to visit those places, or have bad aim, there is always the option to purchase (with real money) additional balls. For children, you can turn off the ability to make in app purchases in the app settings.
Once you have some Pokemon to play with, the goal switches over to leveling up your character by visiting more places and capturing more Pokemon. You’ll receive Stardust that will allow your captured Pokemon to level up in turn.
Upon hitting level 5 in the game you can take your Pokemon to areas known as Pokemon Gyms (most often churches) to battle other players. Remember the GPS portion of the game? This is a stage of gameplay where virtual and reality cross each other. You may end up sitting next to the person you are playing on the same park bench.
Battles increase your levels, you level up your Pokemon and the cycle continues.
What You Should Know About Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go is a Data and Power Gobbler
If you are on a shared plan with a limited amount of data you may want to pay attention to when you are playing using wifi or your network data. If you want to check your data, you can do so on both iPhone and Android devices.
On iPhone, open the Settings app, select Mobile, and then scroll down to Pokémon Go.
On Android, open the Settings app, tap Data Usage, and scroll down to Pokémon Go.
Use of the app itself drains power quickly. If you want to limit the impact of the game on your battery life, try turning off all the other option apps and bluetooth on your phone prior to beginning. In general, this is the best way to extend battery life no matter the use scenario.
You are Giving Away Your Google Data
If you sign up to play using Google you are in turn authorizing Pokemon access to your email, drive and any other Google accounts. Typically most companies that accept this level of access are doing it for a reason, to mine your data and sell it for advertising. Ultimately if you have a Facebook profile, use Google already, or live in the 21st century this is already happening from one or more apps you use regularly. Either way, it’s always good to be aware what types of data you are willing to give out for free.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
The game uses real world locations and GPS to function. That does not make you a character in a video game with extra lives to use at will. Pay attention to streets, obstacles and never ever drive while playing. A group of teenagers recently used a Pokestop to lure players into an unsafe area where they were robbed. Use good sense and don’t go into places you wouldn’t if you were not playing a video game.
For children who are playing, make sure to educate them about the dangers of wandering off the beaten path and dependent on their age, play alongside without letting them off road on the game. If possible, you probably don’t want your kids to be the next ones who find a dead body (in the real world) while playing.
Outside of these extreme circumstances most players have enjoyed getting the hang of the game, and families have found it a great new way to bond and spend time together. The game encourages more time outside and helps make new friends, both virtually and face to face at training gyms.
Sound off in the comments about what your experiences have been with Pokemon Go so far and what tips you have for parents looking to understand and play the game alongside the rest of the family.
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