“What?! You’re still playing that game?” My husband was astounded when he spotted me trying to catch (virtual) creatures while at the shopping mall one weekend. Yes, I admit that I still do play the infamous Pokemon Go game.
It all started back in July 2016 when the game arrived in Malaysia. A week after the game was launched, I was on my way back to Kuala Lumpur from Perak after an assignment. In the van, my travel companions (the organiser and other members of the media) were busy on their mobile phones – busy catching something, that is.
That was my introduction to the game, whose tagline is “Gotta catch ’em all”.
Intrigued, I registered my own Pokemon Go account and joined the masses in catching the cute animated creatures known as “pokemons” in a virtual world by throwing “pokeballs” to trap them.
I learnt how to get the right throw, from “nice”, to “great”, to “excellent” through practice.
Every time I went out, I religiously spun pokestops on the way. These were usually located at spots like famous landmarks, religious buildings, transport hubs, plus some other really odd places.
At the pokestops, you could get the different types of balls – Pokeballs, Great Balls, and Ultra Balls – to use in catching the pokemon. You could also get berries – Razz Berry, Nanab Berry, Pinap Berry – to tame the pokemons so that they are easier to catch, or increase the pokemon candy used for evolving them into other forms. You could also get other special items from time to time.
Before, whenever I waited for public transport, meetings or events to start, and while running errands, I used to spend the time reading something online or checking my e-mails and phone messages. But now, I found myself sometimes catching these pokemon. It made waiting so much more pleasant.
The game’s popularity grew. But as with most games (and other trends), after the hype died down, many stopped playing it. But there were some who continued.
Then, game developer Niantic started introducing new features that were launched in stages: raid battles where you could battle legendary pokemon and get to catch one after winning the battle; new pokemons from different “regions”; quests to earn special items and the chance to catch a particular pokemon; being able to add friends, send them gifts, and trade pokemons with them, and now, pvp (player vs player battle) with them.
They even had community days when certain pokemon were released into the wild, and it would have a special moveset when evolved during that specific time. And, you might also catch a “shiny” variation of that pokemon too!
Yes, the game became more interesting and more interactive. You can actually trade pokemons – and “get lucky”, as in the pokemon becomes a “lucky” pokemon which is automatically one with great specs and requires less “stardust” to evolve. And, you can battle your friends and receive stardust or special items.
I was one of those who kept on playing the game, though I did enter “hibernation mode” at certain points. When I was free, I would play. When I was busy, I would be “inactive”.
Before you shake your head at me, let me tell you that there are benefits to playing the game. In a way, Pokemon Go has encouraged people who would usually not talk to each other to become friends. It has also made those who are usually glued to the computer go outside and walk more. A friend who doesn’t usually exercise mentioned that since he started playing the game, he has walked more … up to several thousands of steps daily!
There are many insights that one can learn from the game and here are a few of them:
Teamwork is everything. In Pokemon Go, there are three teams – Valor (Red), Mystic (Blue), and Instinct (Yellow) – and when you attack the “pokemon gym” guarded by another team, you are more likely to succeed in overthrowing it if you do it with your teammates than if you go it alone. The same goes when you battle in a raid, unless you’re up against a Tier 1 pokemon, you definitely can’t defeat it alone.
Look out for one another. What happens when you have succeeded in taking over the pokemon gym? You place your own pokemons to “guard” the gym. If your pokemon succeeds in staying at the gym for at least eight hours and 20 minutes, you will receive 50 “coins” (the maximum per day).
How long you survive at the gym depends on several things. If you feed your pokemon with berries, it won’t get knocked out of the gym so quickly. Furthermore, if you feed the pokemons of your teammates (ie, those in the gym with you), you increase your chances of survival at the gym, because if one or two pokemons are knocked out of the gym, the rest might also be overthrown easily (it takes six to stand guard at the gym).
Practice makes perfect and persistence pays off. From trying to get an “excellent” throw or a “curve ball” throw, to trying to trade to get a “lucky” pokemon, if at first you don’t succeed, keep at it and don’t give up.
Life is not always fair. But sometimes, you can still get lucky. Shiny pokemon or “shinies” are a rare form of pokemon that appear at random. You might catch a particular pokemon at the same location and time as your friends, but it is possible that only one of you gets a “shiny”. It is totally random.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep at it and one day you’ll get that shiny. Logically and mathematically, it makes sense that if you catch more, the chances are that one of them would be a shiny pokemon is higher.
Keep growing, keep improving. In order for there to be an interest in something – in this case, a game – it must be constantly growing, improving, and evolving to suit the users’ needs.
In this case, a few of my friends who had stopped playing the game sometime ago even returned! Their interest in the game was renewed when all the new features were added and improvements were made.
Networking is important. One of the most elusive pokemons is the Unown. Where and how can you get it? That’s unknown (pun intended). But trading pokemon with your friends is a good way to get those rare pokemons that you’ve had difficulty finding or those regional ones that don’t spawn in your region.
Pvp battles with your Pokemon Go friends or other random players also encourages networking. You might even get a special new item like the sinnoh stone (needed to evolve certain pokemon) or stardust.
And, of course, just like most games, although you can still get to your destination by solo-ing it, it’s always more fun playing with friends.