Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.

The disclaimer is not an exaggeration. Once you start playing, you are sucked into the insanely engrossing world of Pokémon GO.

For the uninitiated, Pokémon GO is perhaps the biggest Augmented Reality Gaming app till date that has virtually taken over the world and racked up millions of downloads already. It is a game that allows players to “catch Pokémos” as they appear on your phone screen using PokeBalls. All this is done using GPS navigation and real-world walking. The type of Pokémon depends on where you are and what time it is. You catch Pokémons in a virtual world overlaid on the real world. Unfortunately, the Pokémons aren’t real – at least not yet. Originally a Japanese anime — credit where it’s due, Pokémon has garnered popularity worldwide.  The fact that users in the same location see the same Pokémons is a very good design decision. Niantic clearly put a lot of thought into how this game works in the real world and they’ve done an amazing job with that.

Although officially launched only in the US, Australia, the UK and now, Japan, many have been able to install the app via some technical workarounds. Here’s a piece of advice, if the APK file requests to connect to Wi-Fi, read bookmarks or run at startup, it is probably an instance of malware and should be avoided. Server overloads have delayed the app’s launch in other countries. That is a testament to the game’s massive popularity. If numbers are anything to go by, it has already surpassed Twitter in daily active users. The app’s stupendous success skyrocketed Nintendo’s stock price. However, the shares nosedived when investors realized it doesn’t actually make Pokémon GO.

A crucial feature Pokémon GO has in its favour is that it only needs GPS and a smartphone. This helps the app rank up high in user-friendliness. Take, for instance, Geocaching which requires more advanced knowledge of GPS. It is the perfect platform to realize the fantasy of seeing a Pokémon in real life — a long-held dream amongst fans. To participate in something this futuristic is an interesting experience.

To answer the big question of why Pokémon GO is so ascendant, its user base mainly comprises of millennials who watched Pokémon religiously. This game attempts to bring fond memories back (nostalgia hits you like a bullet). Furthermore, why not spice up your mundane daily routine with some Pokémon? The app has many users go the distance, literally. It gives users a sense of exploration by encouraging users to go outside and connects them socially to others. Pokémon GO piggy-backs on our obsession with social media. The app offers plenty of opportunities to brag on Facebook or even pose with Squirtle on Instagram.

The app does have its share of dicey consequences; many people have been reported to have suffered injuries by bumping into poles and being lead to remote locations in search of Pokémons. Well, it isn’t called a disclaimer for no reason! A big downside of the game is the battery usage which is an issue troubling many AR games. Phone batteries everywhere are suddenly feeling the burden. This is just an early technological hurdle that AR games will overcome over time.

Surprisingly, lack of natural light doesn’t seem to deter Pokémon hunters as they are willing to wander around outside late at night in search of that elusive Magmar or Meowth.

Here’s what Akanksha Bodhankar has to say about the game, “The PokeStops and PokeGyms would expose us to other players, who we would chat with… it was a pretty magical experience.”

PokeStops are more prevalent in popular parts of the city. You can find a lot of water Pokémons at basically any water body. There are specific locations in the city, like road number 36 Jubilee Hills and Tank Bund, for finding peculiar Pokémons.

Here are a few tips,

  1. If you’ve just begun playing Pokémon GO, you get to choose from three Pokémons at the very beginning: Charamandal, Bulbasaur and Squirtle. Walk away (ignore) from the trio four times to catch a Pikachu. BOOM!
  2. You can retrieve an thrown Pokéball by tapping on it
  3. I would recommend using a power bank because you don’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere at odd times in search of a Snorlax only for your battery to die and you don’t know how to get home
  4. Select the battery saver mode in the game. It dims the light when you flip your phone upside down and buzzes when a Pokémon is nearby
  5. Want to catch more Pokémons? Play it when you’re in an Uber.
  6. Go out to places where people are congregating to play, as there will be lures and you’ll find amazing Pokémons
  7. Don’t play while driving because no Pikachu is worth your life or someone else’s

Pokémon GO Plus

poke plus

Pokémon GO Plus is a standalone peripheral that lets you play without having to look at your phone’s screen the entire time. The device connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth and notifies the player about events in the game. The Pokemon Go Plus device will apparently light up and vibrate in the event that a Pokemon is nearby. The player then has to press the button to capture the Pokemon. It released on 31st July.

The game  spawned many YouTube videos on “How to find rare Pokémons” and memes such as:

poke1 poke2

poke3 poke3


May the odds be ever in your favour in your pursuit to catch ‘em all!

Having said that, it is too early to say how long players will remain enthralled by Pokémon Go. As is the trend, I hope more AR games crop up with characters such as Hans Solo, Tintin, Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes. Now, wouldn’t that be awesome?

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