What the heck is… Pokemon GO?!

Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm. Your coworkers are playing, their friends are playing it, heck, even the dog’s giving it a go. But, what exactly ‘is’ Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is one step away from total domination, but how does it work? And where can you get it? I will not try to attempt to answer all of these questions and more as we delve head first into the frightfully successful world of Pokemon Go.

For starters, Pokemon Go is a free-to-play licensed game which uses AR and GPS to deliver a Pokemon experience in real-life locations. Developed in part by Nintendo and Niantic games – the Pokemon company – the game allows players to travel around in the real world and catch a virtual Pokemon which has been superimposed on the real-world using Augmented Reality via the usage of an onboard device camera.

How to Play Pokemon Go

Pokemon has been around since the 90’s, everyone by this point knows what it’s about. It centres around fictional creatures known as ‘Pokemon’, these creatures are constantly sought after by humans – specifically Pokemon trainers.

These trains catch, train and battle the Pokemon for sport. Starting life as a video game, Pokemon has gone on to be the subject of trading card games, movies, TV shows, toys, books and comics. Pokemon Go is deliberately aimed at the Pokemon-illiterate as knowledge of the series is not a required precursor to enjoying or understanding Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go follows the same pattern which Pokemon lovers will be familiar and comfortable with; you catch Pokemon, battle in Pokegyms and evolve the Pokemon which you have caught – this is all now done in the real world via the application rather than through some GUI on a computer game.

Navigating through the Pokemon Go world is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other – no more d-pads or cursor clicks. The GPS technology which PG uses tracks every step and movement with a high level of accuracy, in turn, the avatar on screen follows your movements.

Pokemon Go doesn’t just offer you the experience of catching Pokemon in your locale, it also allows you to discover and learn things about your neighbourhood which you may not have known, this is done through the usage of small paragraphs which accompany designate Pokestops and Pokegyms – more on those later.

To Play Pokemon Go all you need is a relatively new smartphone, the Pokemon Go app, a net connection – via data or Wifi – and a decent pair of walking shoes.

Getting Started As A Poketrainer in Pokemon Go

Firstly, you’ll need to download the app onto your Android or IOS device, after this, you will be asked to create an account. This can be done with either an existing Google account or you can sign up for a Pokemon Trainer Club account – the PTC account gives you access to Pokemon.com and you can track your progress across the Pokesphere on the site. After signing in, you will be asked to choose a name, gender, eye colour, hair colour and – of course – a backpack style (where else are you going to store all of those Pokeballs?).

Once you have finished customising your avatar, you will be met with three Pokemon – these are your starter options. You will be given the choice of Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle, once you have chosen, the remaining Pokemon will disappear. Some sources say that if you walk away from the original trio around four times, you will be given Pikachu as an option – this is unconfirmed by myself but you could always give it a go!

The main playing of the game is the map. The map is presented in a Google Maps style. Unmarked roads, local landmarks (Stops and Gyms) and rustling leaves populate the area. As you navigate through your world, the avatar will react accordingly. If you look at the bottom left of your screen you will see your player icon, this shows you your level, name and graphical representation of your character – this can be tapped for more information.

Next to your icon is a Pokeball graphic, tapping this will take you to your Pokedex. Your Pokedex is a catalog of all the Pokemon which you have caught thus far, from here you can evolve (if applicable) trade (more on that later) and power up your Pokemon for future battles.

From this menu, you can also access the Pokemon shop, from here you are able to purchase special items which attract Pokemon – this is available every 20 hours.

In the bottom right-hand corner of the home screen, you will be notified of nearby Pokemon. Upon tapping this section you will be able to view any Pokemon in your vicinity – you will also be notified by a vibration. As soon as you see a Pokemon you are interested in catching, don’t waste any time – they disappear after a time.

That’s all well and good, but how do I catch the little critters?

Catching the Pokemon in PG is as simple as – to quote Profess Flitwick –  ‘ a swish and a flick’. After walking around for some time you will notice an icon onscreen that looks  like leaves rustling – this indicates a Pokemon is close -, after walking close enough to the rustling leaves, you will be met with a popup of a strange looking creature – these are Pokemon. Once tapped, the Pokemon will become centre focus of the game screen and you will be met with a Pokeball icon at the bottom of the screen, next to the ball is a number – this represents how many balls you have left.

Once you are ready, swish your finger up into the direction of the little critter, the Pokeball will careen through the air and – depending on where the ball lands – the ball will capture the Pokemon. You know when the Pokemon has been successfully captured because – after a small cutscene of the Pokeball rolling from side to side – a selection of stars will accompany the Pokeball and a ‘Pokemon captured’ message will appear onscreen.

You are given XP for every Pokemon you capture which adds to your overall level. Upon reaching specific levels, you are given access to more areas in the game, Gyms etc.

Pokemon Basics

As I said at the beginning of this article, you don’t need to be a PokePro – that’s one of mine – to understand and enjoy Pokemon Go – or any Pokemon game for that matter. It never hurts to have a bit more information, though so in this section, we are going to go over Pokemon 101 basics.


Pokemons come in all different colours, shapes, sizes and types. The only consequential part about a Pokemon is its type. Pokemon Go shows you Psychic, Poison, Water, Flying, Grass, Bug, Ground, Rock, Electric, Ghost and Normal Poketypes. There are over 100 so I won’t list them all.

Types should be considered as you play through Pokemon Go as they are limited to certain areas, for instance, you are more likely to find a Rock Poketype in a craggy area than a water type. The time of day is also taken into consideration in PG, as you may see more Ghost and Fairy types during the night than during the day.


You – the human player – are the Poketrainer in PG.  Walking to Pokestops, catching Pokemon and battling at Pokegyms. Where – in previous installments of Pokemon – the player character was the ‘Poketrainer’, this role is now assumed by you and your smartphone. When your character reaches level five, you are given the ability to battle it out in Pokegyms with other Poketrainers, you can also gain stronger Pokeballs – which help you catch more rare and difficult Pokemon – and train your Pokemon to be more powerful.

The better your Pokemon, the more successful the battle. When you encounter a Pokegym, you can battle the trainer – if successful – you will become the Gym owner, but be careful, your position is very sought after.


Throughout the Pokeverse, Gyms have been known as places for trainers to take their Pokemon; to train, battle and evolve – Pokemon Go is no different. Certain locations in the real world have been assigned as Pokegyms, just like in the old video games and TV series, these Gyms can be attended by Trainers, and can now, be taken over. Pokegyms are the seat of ultimate power and prowess throughout the Pokemon Go universe and they serve to tell any would-be contester “This is my patch”.

Upon reaching your first gym, you are offered a choice of three teams to join, they are; team mystic (blue), team valour (red) and team instinct (yellow), once you have joined a team, you work together with other members of the team to annihilate the opposition (the remaining colours) in order to reign supreme as victors.

If you are defeated while being the owner of a Gym, you lose the title and another player takes on the role until otherwise contested. Multiplayer is always at the heart of any Nintendo-inspired property and Pokemon Go emphasises this fact by allowing you to team up with your friends to take over and level up opposing gyms. While you are the owners of a Gym, you gain Pokecoins and Stardust – these both can be used to level up and evolve your existing Pokemon.

To Wrap Up

You should now know all you need to know in order to join in on the craze engulfing the world. So, what the hell are you waiting for? Go and catch ’em all.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s