Connor Keenan is our guest blogger.  We thought it might be a good idea to have an active Pokémon Go user provide some background on this new rage, and explain how it all works.  He is a St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute grad, and when he begins college next month, he’ll be majoring in journalism and creative writing.

Over the course of a week, one app has already acquired more than 7.5 million downloads, making its way onto headlines around the world. Pokémon Go, created by Nintendo and developed by Niantic, is an augmented reality game that allows users to interact with fictional creatures in the real world through the use of their phone’s GPS.     Announced on September 9, 2015, the game released on July 6, 2016, without advance notice. It was known that the game was to be released this year, but no exact date was ever announced prior to its release. It may be difficult for some to understand the game’s popularity, and in order to comprehend how the game functions, you must first have a basic understanding of the base material.

The first Pokémon games were released in 1996 for the Gameboy. In each game, you play as a Pokémon trainer, a young boy or girl who embarks on a journey to become the best trainer in the region. Through capturing, battling, and levelling up Pokémon, trainers gain access to Pokémon Gyms. These are led by Gym Leaders, strong trainers with teams of Pokémon that are difficult to beat. Upon defeating all eight Gym Leaders, the trainer will gain access to the Elite Four, the four strongest trainers in the entire region. Upon defeating these four trainers in succession, the player wins the game.

One of the big selling points for a game like Pokémon is its sheer size. Nowadays, there are over 700 different Pokémon to collect, train, and evolve. A player can become immersed in the sprawling regions that each game has to offer. Being able to interact with your friends is also huge. Players can trade and battle each other in an attempt to prove that they are the very best.

As a kid, everybody dreams of their favorite game or television show becoming a reality. Becoming a Power Ranger or flying into space with a lightsaber are common themes in the imaginations of children. Just like these shows, everyone who has played a Pokémon game has always thought of capturing and training Pokémon in real life. With the introduction of Pokémon Go, this distant dream has finally become a reality for millions of people, young and old, around the world.

The newest addition to the franchise features Pokémon coming into the real world. The game utilizes a phone’s GPS to determine a player’s location. Unlike most games, Pokémon Go cannot be played from the comfort of your couch. The game requires people to go outside and walk around in order to catch the creatures. The phone screen displays a map of the surrounding area, with the player’s exact location represented by a character that the player designs. Pokémon will occasionally appear within a radius around the player. Upon tapping on one, the phone’s camera will be activated, allowing the player to view a model of the Pokémon in the world. To capture the monster, you need to throw a Pokéball at it.

Supplies of items, such as Pokéballs, are limited, but can be picked up at various Pokéstops in any community. These are places of interest, such as major monuments, signs, and buildings. Other real world locations include Pokémon Gyms, just like in the actual games. These locations allow for people to fulfill their dreams of becoming an actual Gym Leader, placing a Pokémon to defend the point from opposing teams of players. Gyms can be taken over by battling them with your own Pokémon, whittling down the Gym’s reputation in order to claim it as your own.

Overall, the game is incredibly addictive. The collectable nature of the 151 available creatures gives players an incentive to return to the game in order to, “Catch ‘Em All.” Promised features, such as trading, will be coming to the game soon, giving another way for players to interact with one another. Being able to see people’s dreams become a reality is extremely satisfying, and going for a walk around the block has never been more exhilarating.


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