Perhaps you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of Pokémon Go. More likely, you have heard of the game, as well as the craze that ensued after its release. Or even more likely, you have heard and have been avoiding it, denying its existence, and crossing your fingers your kids don’t get wind of it. I get it. On the surface, it seems like yet another digital drug designed to hook your children and drain your bank account. It does indeed hook your kids (and at least in my case, adults too) and we have had a fair number of arguments about not playing at inappropriate times. However, after a month of play we haven’t spent a dime. Even better, Pokémon Go has made taking walks a fun family activity and been a fun challenge for us all to do together.
So maybe you’re still not interested, that’s okay. I’m just going to leave this very BASIC description here, in case you need it for future conversations with your four-year-old.
Pokémon Go is a free, augmented reality app. When you start you get a customizable avatar. (Much to the chagrin of my four boys, ours is a girl with blonde hair. I even put her in a pink outfit.) Once you choose your look, I recommend going to the settings and turning off the music and sound effects.
Now it’s time to get “Going,” just walk (safely) around your neighborhood. When you see a Pokémon (a little monster of varying sorts) pop up on your screen tap it. It will then appear with a real world background and a Pokéball at the bottom. Flick the Pokéball at the Pokémon until it opens and captures the Pokémon. You’ll know when it happens. Sadly, sometimes the Pokémon break free and even run away. Later on, you’ll earn Razz Berries and Great Balls which will help prevent this from happening. In the meantime, keep walking and you’ll find more.
When you start playing, you’re backpack will be full but eventually you’ll run out. That’s when Pokéstops are important. Each time you get close a Pokéstop it will change from a cube to a rotating target, tap on it, spin the photo, and you’ll find supplies. Pokéballs, potions, Razz berries and eggs will float out and be added to your backpack. Once you spin a Pokéstop, it will turn purple and won’t give you any items until it becomes blue again.
You will also run into gyms, these are taller towers usually red, blue, or yellow with Pokémon spinning on the top. Once you’ve reached Level 5, you can either battle, add to, or train at a gym. I’m not much of a battler but primarily this involves pressing go and then tapping on the screen as fast as you can. (There is more to it than that but you should ask anyone under 30 for all the tricks.)
Eggs, Candy & Evolution:
Another way to add Pokémon to your collection is by hatching them. Hatching is done by incubating the eggs and walking, and walking…and walking. When you reach the required 2km, 5km, or 10km your egg will hatch. Sounds silly, but it’s very thrilling.
Whenever you catch or hatch a Pokémon you get candy for that type of Pokémon. (Not as yummy as real candy but fewer calories). Once you accumulate enough candy of any particular type you can evolve or power up that Pokémon. Some Pokémon will evolve more than once but you’ll need loads of candy to do it, which requires catching more and more Pokémon. Evolving is also very exciting, we like to set aside special time to watch it all together.
Sure, Pokémon Go is addicting, it drains your phone battery, and there are times I wish we could all just concentrate on reality, but if I’m being honest I think Pokémon Go is just as much fun as my kids do, and I love that they are so excited by something we can do together.
DISCLAIMER: What I know about Pokémon is far exceeded by what I don’t know. This is meant to be a primer not full scale explanation. And no matter how excited you are about Pokémon Go after reading this remember, DON’T play while driving, DON’T trespass while playing, and DON’T neglect your children while on Pokémon pilgrimages.