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Pokémon Go For Old(Er) Players

Illustration by Pamela Lim-Kwok

For the past two weeks, the Internet has been hijacked by a new game for smartphones.  Everyone is talking about it. Jokes and memes can be found on every corner of the web. Even more impressive, local news and tech sites can’t seem to stop talking about it – even if the game isn’t available yet in the Philippines.

It’s the age of Pokémon GO.

Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game where you can ‘catch’ cute little ‘pocket monsters’ that will suddenly appear on your phone while you’re using the app. The game is based on the basic premise of Pokémon, a Japanese videogame and anime series where adventurers travel the world seeking Pokémon (yes, there is no ‘s’ in the plural form) to train and battle with each other.

Pokémon GO is HUGE. Just two weeks after its official launch in the US, Australia, and New Zealand, the mobile app has already scored some truly impressive wins. The game has topped Twitter’s daily users (a social media platform that’s been around for about a decade). Various tracking agencies reported that people are spending more time on the app than in Facebook – previously the time drain of choice for so many people. And most surprising of all, the game has triumphed over the formerly undisputed top reason why people go to the Internet: sex. Pokémon GO now has more installs than Tinder (a popular dating/casual sex app) and has even received more online search than porn. It’s now the biggest mobile game in the US, and once it hits the streets of PH, the game is bound to become a major player across all demographics.

If you’re not a gamer and you think Pokémon GO isn’t for you, here are some reasons why you might want to consider giving the game a try:

 /2016.mb.com.ph

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IT’S GOOD FOR YOU

Unlike other mobile games which makes you sit down and dump hours on it, Pokémon GO encourages its users to go out in the real world and be active because you can catch more Pokémon by walking around your neighborhood. Due to its brilliant game mechanics, the game makes walking around a joy and not a chore. It doesn’t force you to overexert yourself; the game is enjoyable no matter how active you are. If your limit is just two blocks, that’s fine – the game still rewards you. But don’t be surprised if you end up breaking your normal limits after regular use. The game’s just fun that way.

More than the exercise, Pokémon GO also encourages you to explore your neighborhood. Pokéstops (spots in the game where you could get free items) will be littered around your area – usually in sites where there are art installations or items of interest. Instead of just blankly travelling from your usual haunts and back to your house, you’ll end up appreciating your neighborhood more because you’ll be exploring more of it.

IT’S NOT BATTLE-FOCUSED

Unlike other games where the main hook is the battle mechanics, Pokémon GO focuses more on catching and evolving your Pokémon. Yes, there is a battle component in the game by going to Pokégyms, but it’s not necessary. You can easily spend your whole game time ignoring this facet. Even if you do want to try out gym battles, it doesn’t feel confrontational – you’re battling Pokémon controlled by AI so there’s no trash talk or anything toxic in the experience. You can easily revive fallen Pokémon. There’s no real ‘loss’ here.

IT REQUIRES LOW INVESTMENT

You can download and play Pokémon GO for free. And while it also has microtransactions (just like any other free-to-play games out there), purchasing items in Pokémon GO is more for convenience, and not for getting ahead. The items you need to play the game (Pokéballs, potions, etc.) can be gathered on Pokéstops, and if you play the game as it was intended (by going out in the real world and walking around), you won’t need to buy anything for the app’s shop. I’ve been playing the game since Day 1 and I’ve never needed to spend real-world money in the game.

The game also doesn’t make you waste your time on it. Play it while you’re walking your dog or going to the market when you need to buy something. Make travelling in the city a little bit bearable by playing the game while you’re stuck in traffic (just make sure you’re not the one driving). Waiting for someone who’s late? Look for the nearest Pokéstop and camp out there to harvest items for free.

IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR FAMILY

Make no mistake about it – if you have grandchildren, they’d probably play Pokémon GO. Why not make video game time a family bonding opportunity? Go take walks with your young grandchildren, play Pokémon GO together, and make a day of it. Teach them how to socialize and be polite with other players on the streets. Pokémon GO is more fun and more rewarding when you have someone playing with you.

If you’re having a hard time connecting with your teenager family members, this game could also be a mutual ground for both of you. Score some cool points with adolescents by having higher level Pokémon than what they have. Be the cool relative. You may even be able to make them do chores by dangling some choice Pokémon as reward for them once the trading feature gets added to the game.

Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to have more common ground with your younger family members. Score some street cred and respect by being the bad-ass Pokémon master in your barangay. Get healthier and know your neighborhood more while enjoying yourself. Give Pokémon GO a try (when it finally becomes available) and go catch them all!