Go places with Pokémon:Go

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If you haven’t heard about Pokémon:Go by now, you either live in a cave or you are not from earth. The mobile game from the popular franchise Pokémon, Pokémon:Go, has taken the world by storm and it’s quite literally taking people places.

Its popularity has grown faster than anything else has in quite some time and it’s still growing. The game is already the most popular game in the US with over 20 million users within a week of the game’s release.

The aim of the game is to catch, collect, train and battle as many virtual Pokémon as you can. The game makes use of the location settings on your phone to create a virtual map of your actual surroundings in which you are able to catch and collect Pokémon.

To catch a Pokémon, you use your device’s camera and built-in gyroscope to view it as if it is in the real world. You then “battle” the Pokémon by throwing Poké Balls at it. If you hit it then you succeed in capturing the Pokémon and you become its owner. The map is interactive and highlights Pokémon, PokéStops and Pokémon gyms nearby. PokéStops provide the player with Poké Balls which are used to capture Pokémon. Pokémon gyms are where tournaments take place and people battle each other for Pokémon.

Why has Pokémon:Go become a worldwide phenomenon? The answers can be found by asking the players of the game themselves. If you are a 90’s kid, it is because you are feeling nostalgic and reliving your childhood. It is a dream come true for most as they are able to re-enact, in a virtual world, what their heroes did in the Pokémon TV series. Others just wanted to keep up with the trend and got hooked by this new and innovative way of playing a game. Pokémon:Go is not the first augmented reality game but it is the first to have captured the world.

Poké-mania?

But at what point does the cultural craze around Pokémon:Go become Poké-mania? There have been reports of people causing car accidents because they were playing whilst driving. While others have been caught trespassing on private property in search of private Pokémon.

Then on July 15, a lady was charged with petit larceny because she stole a 13-year-old’s bike so that she could catch a Pokémon. The same day Poke-mania caused a stampede in Central Park as people abandoned their cars in search of Vaporeon, a rare Pokémon. Apart from the stories about Poké-mania, the game has also been used by criminals. Reportedly robbers added a beacon to a PokéStop to lure victims in.

The question remains as to when will Pokémon:Go officially be available in South Africa? As of July 17 the game has only been officially released in 27 different countries. However that hasn’t stopped people in South Africa using bypass methods allowing them to download and play the game. Even though the game is not officially available in South Africa, various Pokémon:Go events are being hosted.

On Saturday July 23 Pokémon GO to the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens will be happening. July 30 a Pokémon:Go event is being hosted at Emmerentia Dam and a day later there will be another Pokémon:Go event at Monte Casino. If you are a Pokémon fan, your dream has come true, if not, give it a try and see what has got millions of people hooked.

Pikachu, I choose you!

Written by: Van Zyl Cronjé
With additional contributions made by: Jody Davison