The new Pokémon GO game, based off of the popular card game, has launched and people can’t seem to get enough of it. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have been inundated with posts from people playing the game and it instantly piqued my interest. I decided to download the game to see what all the hype was about. I didn’t do too much with the game until today, when the health benefits and potential risks of the game came up in conversations with coworkers. It was then when I decided to give the game a second chance and to see what it was all about.
I asked my coworker, who is familiar with the game, to take a lunch time walk where he could give me a quick run-down of the game. We both opened the app on our phones and headed for a walk down Main Street in Middletown on the quest to find some Pokémon. The game uses a GPS and knows where users are at any given time. Before we even left the building we were both able to catch a Pokémon and visit our first PokeStop. What I didn’t know was that PokeStops are real locations pinned to the area you are playing in. When a player visits the stop they can collect Pokeballs, which are used to actually capture the Pokémon or eggs, to hatch your own unique Pokémon, and more. To access the features of the PokeStop you must be within a certain distance. The same goes for gyms. I have yet to visit a gym though because I am not at a high enough level. Although from what I have heard the gym is where you would go to train and battle other Pokémon.
As we were walking down the street, I got an alert on my phone saying I was near a Pokémon. My coworker and I stopped dead in our tracks. Not necessarily the best idea. Had anyone been behind us we would have caused a potential pedestrian accident on the sidewalk. However, as we stood on the sidewalk trying to catch the Pokémon a young man walked by and asked if we were playing the game. We told him we were and he shared he was too. A conversation started up and the young man shared that he had walked well over 10 miles since the game came out. He wished he had more time to play but has a busy work schedule so he has a limited time frame for playing. After generously giving us a thorough tutorial of the game we went our separate ways and he left saying “I have to finish getting my exercise in!”
As our walk continued I found myself looking ahead on the map at what the next PokeStop was and how far away it was from me. Just today I found myself stopping at the PokeStops at NoRa Cupcake, the Middletown Fire Department, the fountain at Luce, Eli Cannons, Kid City, the Jehosaphat Starr House, the Water Goddess mural on the side of my office building, and finally, I found myself at the mural on the side of St. Vincent De Paul. I even found one at CHC Middletown! Main Street and Middletown have so many more stops to offer, if I didn’t have to get back to the office I could have easily stayed outside playing for the rest of the day.
I hadn’t put much thought into the health benefits associated with playing the game, but after playing for a short period of time I realized Pokemon GO encourages users to get outside, walk around and explore their communities. The concept is truly amazing. Each time the game opens up, users are cautioned to stay alert at all times. I understand why. It is easy to get sucked into the game and abruptly stop walking or continue into a street without looking. If you’re playing at night, play with a friend and don’t travel into an area that may make you uncomfortable. I would also suggest if a child is playing, parental supervision is recommended.
If you are looking for a fun, active way to keep yourself busy this summer, this is the game for you.
I already can’t wait to get home and look for more Pokémon.