Unless you’ve been on an Internet free vacation the last few days, you’d be hard-pressed to have missed all the buzz surrounding the release of PokemonGo – a new game & app from the Pokemon franchise.
It’s a free to play, reality mobile game. It’s called “augmented reality,” which means players have to move around with their smart phones to play. Various Pokemon exist just hanging out all over the place; if you get near a Pokemon, your phone will vibrate and you get a chance to catch him with your Pokeballs.
The app changes to camera mode when you tap on the Pokemon so you are tossing balls towards a Pokemon with whatever is your real time background.
If you catch them, they become a part of your “collection,” but often times they’re tough to catch. The Pokeballs run out quickly. (especially if you have terrible aim, like I do)
They can be obtained by visiting a local Pokestop or by buying them.
Yes, I know I said the game is free to play but like every other app, there’s the allure of what you get when you start tossing in a couple of bucks. Other items available for purchase include incense to lure Pokemon your way, egg incubators, extra storage space for Pokemon or items and other various items.
Pokestops are usually around some sort of landmark, church or building from what I’ve seen so far. I found two today at our local parks. But we first started playing a few days ago while road tripping, and all of our Pokestops seemed to be tourist areas or rest stops off the side of the highway.
So what’s the point? What are the kids doing with these collected Pokemon? Well eventually the endgame is that you’re going to fight battles with your collected Pokemon in the gyms – a sort of battle arena.
When you reach level 5, you’ll be prompted to join one of three teams: Mystic, Valor or Instinct. I see people online calling them by colors – all I know is that I’m sharing a game and account with my 9 year old and we joined team Instinct, which is also Team Yellow. (Go Team Yellow!) The gyms become colored to the team that last won there so as you move around you can see a Blue Gym, Yellow Gym, etc.
It’s apparently a big thing – this article on Mashable this morning cracked me up about two girls who had to kayak out in the middle of a bay to try and claim a gym.
As a parent and a gaming geek myself, I think it’s a pretty ingenious app & game. It’s like Geocaching on a whole new higher game-geek level. And while I love that it’s getting all of these kids to move around rather than sitting in front of a screen, I do think there’s cause for concern and caution as a parent with this app.
A discussion needs to be had with the kids using the app. I’ve already seen kids around our area walking around and playing and they are very intense and not all aware of their surroundings. There’s a warning when the app starts up about staying aware of what’s going on around you, but you can bet most kids aren’t paying attention.
One friend of my son told me she had to catch a Pokemon in the middle of her road in her neighborhood. She was telling the story saying she was being careful of cars but to point out that it was crazy that there was a Pokemon in the middle of the road.
It’s a sensation this week and a craze that may or may not pass quickly and while I love the idea that it gets people outdoors and exploring, I hope everyone is being safe.
We need to make sure our kiddos are looking up and paying attention to what’s going on around them as they’re using this app.
And that goes for you adults out there too. Because don’t even pretend you aren’t playing too.