It’s happened! It’s finally happened! Pokémon Go, the augmented reality pocket monster game for iOS and Android, has released on both iOS and Android in the US. Neither Nintendo nor Niantic (who also make Ingress) had said when it was going to happen, so the launch just… happened. I spent my lunch break wandering around Manhattan in 90 degree weather to test it out for y’all. The short version: highly recommend. But the long version sees some pros and cons, expected and unexpected.
The Premise of Pokémon Go
You are a Pokémon trainer and a brand new professor, Professor Willow (who some seem to think is steamy), has asked you to carry around a Pokédex and to occasionally transfer some Pokémon to him for study. Same deal, different tree person. You even start by catching one of the traditional three (Squirtle 5ever for me). What’s incredibly different is the Pokémon show up in our world. I caught the Squirtle standing on my laptop’s keyboard, for example. You also gain Pokéballs by stopping at real landmarks and public art, a lot like Ingress. If you get an egg, you can use an incubator to hatch it after you walk a certain number of steps. There’s no Pokécenters and you have to use potions and revives to heal up your Pokémon after battle. And! Battling at the gyms are very different. When you get to level five, you join a team and teams battle for control over gyms. That part is more like Ingress than Pokémon. Here’s the trailer:
As soon as I plugged my earbuds in, the music started and I was in nostalgia central. Having riffs on the Pokémon music I grew up with piped into my ears as I walked around was incredibly satisfying. The map is bright, happy and easy to read, and a lot of the actions one takes in the game are extremely intuitive. For instance, when you hit a Pokéstop, you spin a little medallion to collect items from it. I didn’t notice the instructions telling me what to do, I just did it.
Seeing Pokémon appear in our word is delightful! I got a weird bodily happy high from it that I wasn’t expecting. Aside from my wishes about Harry Potter (still ongoing), the piece of fiction that I wanted to come to life was Pokémon, and the fact that this game exists makes me feel really normal about that. Other people definitely wished their hardest for it, too, and they built this. Flicking the Pokéball at the little dancing, flipping Pokémon is also really satisfying. It makes you feel like you have some control over whether you catch it, which is a pro over the original games, even.
For me, personally, Pokémon is one of the greatest concepts out there because I’m a huge fan of collection games. I like building a collection, checking all the boxes, seeing progress. It’s for this reason that I’m likely to enjoy this game more than other augmented reality games like Ingress or even Zombies Run.
I am literally watching my phone battery tick down as I type this. Yeah, I get it. It uses live location services to serve the map and all the Pokémon are based on the surrounding terrain. Leaving location services on all the time takes a certain amount of battery power. When you’re using the augmented reality feature to capture Pokémon, that uses your camera. And yeah, that uses battery too. The things that make the game cool are inherently powerhogs. There’s a certain amount that we have to just live with, but it’s still a huge con. If I need my phone to last all day, there’s no way I’m bringing out Pokémon Go just to capture a Doduo in the park. There’s supposed to be a wearable wristband that helps with that, but it’s currently unavailable.
Another massive con for me is the gym play. I want it to be a lot more like Pokémon’s original gym, where you assemble a team and battle a trainer and are awarded a badge. THINK OF HOW COOL THAT WOULD BE! A location-based badge, maybe each different country (or even State) has a different color? I get it, it’d be so difficult to implement. Having players take over gyms makes it easier. Doesn’t mean it’s not a con for me.
While avatar selection seems as divorced from gender as it can get (they ask you to pick your style, not your gender), the art on the selections seems pretty binary. I chose the more masculine one, because I’m a person who tries to make avatars look like me most of the time. Brown hair, brown eyes. That kind of thing.
And last, the wide release is really buggy. Once you’re in the game, you’re fine. But occasionally the server seems to be really overwhelmed. I almost feel sorry for it. And when the server is overwhelmed, it kicks me out and I have to sign in again, which is truly annoying. Good news is Niantic is aware of the issues and is fixing to fix them.
So. Are you trying to catch ’em all?
The Third Annual White House LGBTQ Tech and Innovation Fellowship nomination form is live! From the form:
The White House Office of Public Engagement & Office of Science and Technology Policy are looking for technologists, innovators and community leaders to participate in this year’s White House LGBTQ Tech & Innovation Summit on August 23rd, 2016.
The Summit will bring together over 200 of the most innovative and talented LGBTQ technology leaders to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges. We will spend the day learning about different issues and breaking out into teams to come up with ways to solve specific problems facing America and the world. Potential challenges include: gun violence prevention, gender equity, big data and privacy, voting rights, the environment, tech inclusion, prison reform and energy.
Who Should Apply //
We encourage you to apply and nominate leaders using the form below. We are looking for a mix of technologists, including engineers, data scientists, designers, entrepreneurs, product and marketing specialists. Please note that all nominees should be LGBTQ, team players and outside the box thinkers.