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Pokémon Go: One Trainer’s Tale

Posted by cfeehan on July 21, 2016

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As we get older, our priorities vary and our goals change. We seem to lose more and more of our free time to things like overtime hours, visiting the in-laws, or driving our kids to soccer games. That magical “Christmas morning” feeling even tends to fade as the years go on – you know the one I mean, because you still see it in the faces of your own children, nieces and nephews, or younger cousins. It’s characterized by the pure, uninhibited excitement and wonder that radiates from them when they know something amazing is about to happen, and for too many people, it disappears sometime between childhood and adulthood.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if there was a way to bring this feeling back into the lives of a huge percentage of adults? And not just on Christmas morning, but every day? I venture to say that Pokémon Go, the app that is sweeping the nation, is doing just that. Every time a player hatches a new Pokémon, evolves one of their favourites, or finds a rare one in the wild, it’s like a little, unexpected present that makes their day a little brighter and more exciting. And I can’t say that I see the harm in that.

If you take a look at last week’s blog on the basics of Pokémon Go, you’ll get a big-picture view of the app and how it works, as well as how it’s being received by the public. Just as an update: after only two days of being released, 1 in 20 people in the U.S. were playing. A few days later, less than one week after its release, the game became the most active mobile game of all time in the States, boasting 21 million active users. And now that the app is officially available in Canada, there’s a good chance that it will become just as popular here (if it isn’t already). I want to take the time to clear up some misunderstandings about the app, share my experience, and give some helpful tips to fellow trainers. 

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One of the common misconceptions about Pokémon Go is that it’s only for children. The numbers, however, paint a different picture: a recent study showed that 83% of players are aged 18 to 34. This couldn’t make more sense to me – this is the demographic that grew up playing Pokémon, probably on their original Game Boy or Game Boy Color – it’s only logical that they’re feeling a sense of nostalgia now that they can actually catch Pokémon in the world around them. I, for one, definitely fit into this category. I grew up obsessed with playing Pokémon on my Game Boy, watching Pokémon on T.V., and collecting Pokémon cards and figurines. These funny-looking creatures bring me back to my childhood, but this app lets me experience them in a whole new way.

Another way-too-common generalization I’ve heard is that everyone who plays Pokémon Go fits the profile of the stereotypical “guy who lives in his mom’s basement”: they’re jobless, single, have zero social skills, and have no chance at a successful future. Of course, the player demographic is diverse, but in our defense, literally everyone I know who plays has a stable full-time job and is socially competent. They’re even generally physically fit, because they have to be – this game requires players to walk multiple kilometers every day in order to hatch their eggs, find new Pokémon, and travel to gyms. In my case, I think I’ve gotten more exercise since the game’s release than I had in the month prior! My guess is that the people who hate Pokémon Go are the ones who have never played it, and they’re likely going to continue to make assumptions and over-generalizations – this is a common theme with large-scale game and product launches. So instead of trying to change things, here’s a trophy for those people to celebrate all the hard work they’ve put into disliking Pokémon Go. 

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Now, back to my story. It may sound crazy, but I have my phone out during every walk I go on. I’m constantly on the hunt for Pokémon in my area, and if I find one, I catch it by swiping up on my phone and subsequently, launching a Pokeball that captures it (on the first try, if I’m lucky). On the way, I collect items from Pokestops, and once I had finally levelled up enough, I started battling in gyms. This is the major point of the game; you want to train your Pokémon until they’re strong enough to take over gyms controlled by opposing teams. So far, I’ve won 40 gym battles. Not bad for a beginner, but I’d like to rack up a few (dozen) more!

Since I live near a university, I get to see the Pokémon Go hysteria first-hand. Some days, it’s like a zombie apocalypse. I’ll see 50 people standing in the same spot, staring at their phones, not saying a word to each other – it’s clear that they’re all there catching the same Onix or other super cool nearby Pokémon. Other days, I overhear people meeting fellow trainers and making new friends, and forming teams to go Pokémon hunting with. This is the kind of relationship-building that makes the app so cool to me. It’s bringing people outside and bringing people together, and I think that’s fantastic.

Of course, there has been some specific negative feedback about the app. While it encourages players to get out and get active, some are reporting fatigue and injuries caused by excessive exercise (yes, really). Some players are even running into traffic to catch rare Pokémon, then blaming their injuries on the app. But seriously, if you’re a reasonable human being, you know not to wander into traffic because an app tells you that there’s a Magikarp in the middle of the highway. So please, please be responsible for your own actions while using the app, and please be aware of your surroundings. Speaking from experience, it really isn’t that hard to walk and play at the same time without getting run over.

Now that you’ve gotten a run-down (too soon?) of my experiences with the app thus far, it’s time for a few tips and tricks to help you be the very best.

1. How to get Pikachu as your starter Pokémon

When you start the game, three Pokémon appear on the app’s interactive map – Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle – and you’re told to choose one. But there’s another, hidden option for knowledgeable trainers like yourself; if you walk away from these Pokémon enough (three times), they will respawn, and Pikachu will be with them. Then, you can choose him as your starter, and continue the game as usual.

2. How to choose your Eeveelution

Eevee is one of the game’s most popular Pokémon, and for a good reason. Eevee is adorable, and she has three different possible basic evolutions – Jolteon, Flareon, or Vaporeon. Most Pokémon Go players covet the elusive Vaporeon, as this evolution is supposed to be the strongest, but the evolution you get is totally random, and many players seem to be getting Flareons instead. But is it truly random? There’s a rumour going around that if you name your Eevee something specific before evolving it, this will affect what it evolves into. Take a look at the reference below:

  • If you want a Jolteon, name your Eevee Sparky
  • If you want a Flareon, name your Eevee Pyro
  • If you want a Vaporeon: name your Eevee Rainer

I can’t guarantee that this works 100% of the time, but it worked for me, and I’m now the proud owner of a majestic Vaporeon. So I’d recommend at least trying it out if you’re particular about your Eeveelutions.

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3. Best way to use your Lucky Eggs

Lucky Eggs are an awesome feature of the game, but they must be used strategically. When you’re using a Lucky Egg, a 30-minute time span begins wherein all XP collected is doubled. My suggestion is to wait to use this until you have a ton of Pidgeys, Caterpies or Weedles – Pokémon that can evolve with only 12 candies – then evolve them all at the same time. You’ll get 1000 XP for each evolution, and if you register any new Pokémon while evolving, you’ll get a whopping 2000 XP. I jumped almost three levels in 15 minutes using this technique, so I’d highly recommend it!

4. Augmented Reality feature

Although the augmented reality feature is cool, turning it off makes it a lot easier to catch Pokémon, and even saves your battery life!

5. Pokéstops

You can visit the same Pokéstop to collect items every 5 minutes. This is great news if there’s one accessible from your home or work (just don’t let anyone catch you – no pun intended).

I hope this blog has made you realize that Pokémon Go is not so much a game as it is a cultural revolution. This app encourages social interaction and exercise, and brings players back to a simpler time, when the hardest decision they had to make was whether they wanted a blue or white freezie. Catch ‘em all, my fellow trainers, and do so with your head held high.

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.