Everything You Need To Know About Pokémon Go, The Game That's Taking Over The World

Rashmi Daryanani , 12 Jul 2016
Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve definitely heard about Pokémon Go – and you’re either already playing it, or wondering why the hell everyone’s flipping out about it. I’ve been obsessed with the game from the minute I downloaded it, so of course I’ve been fielding a bunch of questions from people who have been hearing about it but don’t really know what’s up. In case you fall into that category, here are some common questions about the game – and everything you need to know so that you’re not clueless at the next happy hour.

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

What is Pokémon?

Pokémon is a franchise – spanning games, movies, TV shows – that features creatures called Pokémon, which are caught by trainers and made to battle each other. The tagline is “gotta catch ’em all” and that’s been the basis for the games, movies and shows – the main purpose is to fill up a device called a Pokédex, and that happens only once Pokémon are “seen” in the wild and captured. Pokémon are then made to battle against other Pokémon, especially in gyms – a place where Pokémon Trainers go to train their Pokémon.

Catching a Weedle
Catching a Weedle

What is Pokémon Go?

It’s an augmented reality game for iOS and Android devices that follows the concept of the original games – you (as a Pokémon Trainer) have to catch Pokémon, train them and battle against other Pokémon. The game utilises your phone’s GPS, and as you walk around the real world, you’ll encounter different kinds of Pokémon which are available for catching. The game uses your phone’s camera to display your surroundings and imposes the Pokémon on top of it, to make it feel like you’ve really run into a Pokémon in the real world.

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

Why is it such a big deal?

It’s basically a dream come true for anyone who was obsessed with the Pokémon games and wished the universe was real and they could be a Pokémon trainer. This is pretty much as close as it gets for now – until they figure out virtual reality properly – because you have to actually, physically move around the real world to catch Pokémon and battle against trainers in gyms. Even if you weren’t into the games, think of it is a fun treasure hunt where the whole world (literally) is your playground. What a time to be alive!

How popular is this thing really?

Well, my mother nonchalantly told me, “Oh, this Pokémon Go is more popular than Tinder now, huh?” That should tell you something. Let’s just say, it’s very popular: it’s already the top grossing app on the US App Store, Nintendo’s market value has been boosted by $9 billion in a few days, they’re reportedly generating $1.6 million in revenue daily from in-app purchases, etc etc. Basically, it’s a major craze.

A Magneton on the streets of Colaba
A Magneton on the streets of Colaba

So how do I get Pokémon Go in India?

If you’ve tried to download Pokémon Go in India but haven’t found it, that’s because it hasn’t technically launched here yet. That hasn’t stopped people from getting it, though. You won’t be able to get it from the Play Store, so if you’re on an Android, you’ll have to download the APK file and install it on your phone separately. Here’s a tutorial on how to do that.

If you’re on iOS, you’ll need to change your region to US, New Zealand or Australia, the countries where Pokémon Go is currently available. (Settings > General > Language & Region > Region.) You’ll then have to change the region on your App Store as well. (App Store > scroll to the bottom > click on your Apple ID > View Apple ID > sign in > Country/Region > Change Country or Region.) You’ll need a credit card from the country you select, so you may need to use a friend or family member’s. Plus, you’ll need to input an address in that country. Once Pokémon Go releases in India, you can switch your store back to the Indian store using the same process.

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

How much does it cost?

The app is free to download, but there are in-app purchases: you can spend real money to buy Pokécoins, which can then be used to buy a bunch of items, such as more Pokéballs to catch Pokémon. It isn’t strictly necessary to make any in-app purchases at all, as you can pick up items for free throughout the game. But hardcore fans may not mind putting down a few bucks for rarer items and/or the ability to carry around more items/Pokémon.

How risky is this game? Has anyone died while playing Pokémon Go?

So far, there are no reports of anyone dying (although someone did come across a dead body while playing the game). Of course, there are some real risks to playing it – like if you ignore your surroundings and run through traffic to catch a Pikachu. You’ll have to exercise caution while playing the game for sure.

Are there any benefits to the game?

Well, I hit my move goal on my fitness tracker for the first time in weeks yesterday, thanks to the fact that I was walking around looking for Pokémon. So yes, increased exercise, for sure – and since it uses your phone’s GPS, it forces you to actually go out and take a walk; the treadmill won’t help you much here. Plus, there are reports that it has benefitted people’s mental health, especially those who suffer from depression: it’s given them a reason to get out of bed and go outside, which is super cool. And then there’s the obvious upside of running into fellow nerds while out playing, and potentially making some new friends while at it.

But can I play from my couch if I want to?

Not really. It uses your phone’s GPS, so moving around works best. That’s not to say you can’t catch a Pokémon while at home – I caught a Bulbasaur in bed one morning, so yes, a Pokémon may just appear while you’re sitting in one place. But there’s not much to do unless you’re moving around. It’s also great to use while you’re in a moving car (once you’re not the person driving!) as you’ll likely pass a bunch of Pokéstops on the way and run into more Pokémon. It works best if you’re not moving too fast – you don’t want to pass the stops or move away from the Pokémon too quickly – which makes it perfect for the traffic in so many Indian cities. :P

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

Okay, I tried, but the app keeps freezing/kicking me off/telling me the server is down…

Yeah, the app is riddled with issues right now, mostly because it became way more popular than expected. It should get better, though, but in case you’re wondering: no, you’re not the only one having issues.

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

Is this a passing fad or do I really have to invest myself in this?

Hard to say if it’s a passing fad just yet, as it’s only been a few days. There’s a very real possibility everyone gets bored of running around and catching Pokémon within a few weeks, but it’s fun for now, so if it sounds like something you’d be into – go for it. You’ll get some exercise out of it, at least.

Have you given Pokémon Go a go yet?

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