Gotta catch them all! Pokémon! For twenty years, we have heard that slogan, Pokémon has been a beloved game and cartoon series since its release in 1996. On par with one of the most popular gaming franchises, until last January, there wasn’t much talk of Pokémon except with fans or people playing the latest edition on their gameboys. However, as of last week, that all changed with Pokémon Go! What is Pokemon Go? It retains the basics of Pokémon games past of catching Pokémon, battling at Gyms, using items, evolving your creatures but now with a twist: You’re doing it all in the real world. That means instead of tapping or using a gamepad to tell your virtual avatar where to go to find Pokémon, you’re actually walking to do with your mobile device in hand in the real world. That’s right, as you walk or in some cases, run, your avatar is moving right along with you in real time thanks to your mobile device’s GPS and you can use it for Education! No really!
- Pokémon Go starts out pretty simple, to sign up for the game, you’ll need to use your Google account or sign up for a Pokémon Trainer Club account. Pokémon Go stores all your information on its servers, so you’ll need to use one of these two methods to link your Pokémon data to your device. After signing up, you’ll want to customize your digital avatar. You can choose your gender, eye color, hair color, shirt, hat, ect. Once you’ve done so, you’ll enter the main area of the game: The Pokémon Go map, which is like a colorful version of Google Maps. The set up is like so:
- Player icon: Your player icon is at the bottom left corner of the screen. Tap on this to view your character’s information, as well as a list of in-game achievements.
- Backpack: This is where all the items you pick up on your journey are stored.
- Pokédex: Your index of Pokémon, complete with information on all the species you’ve already caught.
- Pokémon: Where you can see all the Pokémon that are in your possession.
- Nearby Pokémon: Tap on the bottom right corner of the screen to see what Pokémon are near by. They are measured by foot print. If you see 1 print they are a 100 or less meters away and if you see no footprints you are right next to them. Just move around to have them jump o
- To catch your Pokémon is when a trainer begins their first journey, they’re given a choice of which Pokémon to start with. After you’ve finished customizing your avatar, three Pokémon will appear in front of you. You can choose from Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle; after capturing one, the other two will disappear.But wait: Most people want fan favorite, Pikachu and let’s face it, probably capturing the electric mouse in the wild is going to be pretty tough, but it isn’t. If you walk away from the original three four times, you’ll get a fourth starter Pokémon option: Pikachu who you can then capture and away you go. In fact, this probably the smartest idea to start your game with. First off all, you get a high XP point for capturing our yellow hero and Squirtles and Bulbasaurs are actually in open field areas in your local town. Hence force, you can get Pikachu and then get your favorite water turtle and plant lizard shortly afterwards if you start your journey. Charmander is sadly a little hard to come by in the wild, but are usually found in Pokéstops in near by towns.
You can find wild Pokémon by physically walking around your area. Stick to populated areas: Pokémon appear most often near PokéStops. The more PokéStops nearby, the more creatures should appear. Try visiting locations with a lot of public art; tourist spots or malls are great starting points. You can find wild Pokémon by physically walking around your area.
As you walk around in the real world, your avatar moves along the map using GPS. When a Pokémon is close enough to capture, it pops up on your screen. Since walking around with your eyes glued to your phone is a bit of a safety hazard, the game is designed to allow you to keep your eyes free while you wander. You can keep your phone at your side while you walk; when you are near a Pokémon, you’ll get a notification in the form of a vibration and (if your sound is turned on) the Pokémon’s unique call. It’s pretty easy to hear the call or the vibration to find your Pokémon and not put yourself in danger.
You can then move to a safe location (if you were walking along a road, for instance), and tap the visible Pokémon to capture it. Tapping zooms in on your avatar and launches an augmented reality experience with the Pokémon dancing around amidst your surroundings. If you don’t see it on the screen immediately in front of you, move your device around until it appears. (There are arrows on the side of the screen to guide you in the right direction.)
If AR makes you nauseous or you don’t want your battery drained, you can always turn the feature off in the upper right corner. Plus, you can also set for low battery use on your settings tab.
Once you’ve found the Pokémon, it’s time to throw a Pokéball to try and capture it. You “throw” in game by tapping and holding on your Pokéball; a glowing, shrinking ring appears then around the Pokémon. When the ring gets to its smallest, you want to flick your Pokéball directly toward the creature (with the aim of bopping it on the head) and release your finger; if successful, you’ll capture the Pokémon inside. However, you have to take notice of the color circle around the Pokémon. If its green, the Pokémon isn’t that powerful so capturing it should be easy. When it’s yellow, its stronger and if its red, you have a very strong Pokémon. Some Pokémon will break free of your Pokéball real quick. In fact you might have it break your capture ball a few times before it’s captured. If you’re running low on supplies, run away. I ran out of many Pokéball trying to capture stronger Pokémon this way. I give the rule of 4 of this. If it breaks free four times, run away.
As you progress in the game, you’ll encounter stronger Pokémon that require a more powerful Pokéball (or Razz Berries, which lull the Pokémon to complacency). A great idea is to capture several weak Pokémon as you set out on your journey. While you have a limit of capturing 50 Pokémon and Pokéballs early on. You an send them to Dr. Willow and you will get XP, Poké Candy and Stardust that can help you evolve your Pokémon and raise your XP points so you can unlock your next level. Once you reach Level 12 (some players do this in an hour). You get the stronger Pokéballs at Pokéstops and you can start capturing the stronger Pokémon and your Lure Pokéballs after level 24. So, capturing 30 Caterpis or Pigeottos is not a bad idea. What’s really amazing is the curve ball feature. Its when you spin your Pokéballs with your finger and then flick it at the Pokémon. You get higher XP when you make a capture it also helps to capture stronger Pokémon.
- The next are PokéStops, which are important or iconic places around your area: They may be special benches with dedication plaques, permanent art installations, or historic landmarks. They’ll never be something like a stop sign, nor will they be in a location that is not accessible to the public like something inside a private building, or beyond a locked gate. The most places that I have found are: Parks (including Six Flags), Cemeteries (sorry Ghost Pokémon don’t hang there), Police/Fire Stations, Churches, malls, you name it. My sisters have found many Pokémon in their office buildings during breaks and stops just outside their buildings. College campus are full of stops and gyms like no other.
Gyms are available to you once you reach level five and visit a Gym, you’ll be asked to join one of three color-coded teams: Instinct (Yellow), Mystic (Blue), or Valor (Red).
Gyms are actual landmarks out in the world, and they are where all Pokémon battles happen. You can claim them for your team, or help level up a Gym already claimed for your team to build up its prestige. Trainers can take over an unoccupied Gym and claim it for the Instinct, Mystic, or Valor team. If your team’s color is in control of a Gym, you can train your Pokémon inside, one at a time. If a Gym is held by an opposing team, you’ll need to battle the Pokémon standing guard to lower its prestige and have a chance of taking it over. Unlike Nintendo’s games, the team you choose doesn’t affect the type of Pokémon you come across in the wild, but it does matter for Gym battles. After picking a team, you’ll join millions of other players around the world; each team will work together to become the most successful. Teams are how you join up with your friends to make a dent on the world. You and your team will take over and level up Gyms; when you possess a gym, you get Pokécoins and Stardust, which can help you level up and evolve your Pokémon.
Entering a Gym triggers a fun mini-game wherein you attack the opposing Pokémon, and dodge their attacks. While battling, you have three options: You can tap the screen to attack, press and hold the screen to initiate a special attack, or swipe left or right to dodge an opponent’s attack. Just as with traditional Pokémon games, the goal is to reduce your opponent’s Pokémon to zero hit points.
To steal control of a Gym that is already occupied by an opposing team, you must win in battle against all of the Gym Leaders’ Pokémon in it. Beating leaders in the Gym will lower its prestige, but it will take multiple battles against the same Pokémon in order to occupy it for your team.
When you occupy a gym, you not only help your team, but you earn PokéCoins, too! Every 20 hours, you can visit the Shop and redeem your coins, based on how many gyms you currently occupy.
However, don’t think that leaving behind a 600+ Magmuir means you will own that gym forever. The average gym is taken over after two hours. I took over one gym and left behind my 436 powered Ratitcate and he was ousted four hours later by someone using a Fearrow at 375. However, does that mean you shouldn’t get a gym? There are daily free rewards from eggs to power up items, but to have access to them, you have to have access to at least one gym.
- Pokémon Go isn’t just about taking care of and leveling your Pokémon, it’s about your experience, too. You can gain levels as a trainer by catching Pokémon, exploring PokéStops, and battling at Gyms.
As you hit higher levels, you’ll be able to fight at gyms, gain access to higher-quality PokéBalls and other items, and help strengthen your Pokémon.
If you have a higher trainer level than the players at a rival Gym, you’ve got a better chance of taking it over. This is especially true when it comes to fighting multiple trainers to take over a single Gym. There are medals you can earn for completing certain achievements, like catching a number of Pokémon of a certain type, or walking a set distance. As you hit higher levels, you’ll be able to fight at gyms, gain access to higher-quality PokéBalls and other items, and help strengthen your Pokémon.
Using in Education
Now, you know how Pokémon Go works and how to play it. So, how does this work for Education.
- If Pokémon Go is anything, this is basically gamification of Geocache. Look how how the PokéStops and Gyms are set up. They are actual landmarks, we talk bout using Google Maps, Geocache and getting outside of the classroom. This does just that and while you might have classroom devices that only use wi-fi, that doesn’t mean you can’t look at what the PokéStops really are. One locally to me is a hotel and waterpark. What is the history of that location? Why was it made to be a PokéStop? Could you recreate the history of the PokéStop or gym. Speaking of Gyms, what are the most common places for gyms? Churches and landmarks. What made them a landmark? What is the history of that church or religion? How often is the gym taken over and at what time? There is so much: history, math, geography and more just by doing that and you didn’t even capture a Pokémon.
- Safety is huge with Pokémon Go. The rules are: Pokéballs down, eyes on the road and when the game loads it tells you to be aware of your surroundings. What lead to people taking the safety for granted? Is it worth buying a $30 Pokémon Go wrist unit that functions like a Smartwatch to vibrate and sound as you are using Pokémon Go, but you don’t have your face down on your device. Is this a good investment type of lesson.
- This gamification at its finest. Michael Matera has talked about student engagement with gamification. Here you have XP, achievements, competition, strategy and more and fits into any lesson or project or subject matter. I could sit here all day, but I made a Pinterest Board instead right here: Pokemon Go Edu Pinterest Board go check it out how you can use Pokémon Go in your classroom.
- You can set up classroom accounts and then have your students who have mobile devices download the App and get outside. Data use on Pokémon Go is very low. I was the passenger in the backseat of a van this weekend and I let it run and I didn’t use more than 14 mb of data. So, you can do twice a week run on this and do a geo explore scavenger hunt. Where do grass type Pokémon show up? What about water? How are they similar to real world animals and places? What is 300 meters like to walk? How does the GPS work on their devices to locate and explore with Pokémon Go? You can even do weekly gym battles if you have a gym right outside your classroom. (Schools are left as free zones since they aren’t public year round).
- If you can’t use student devices or a classroom device, you can use your own. Set up daily assignments where the student chooses what you have to do. An example would be: Find a ghost Pokémon and then the teacher does it and then tells the story of how they caught a Ghastly or how they can’t find them in their area at all. Have students try to figure out why that is. Why did a pollywag show up by a storm drain, but you never find one by a lake, pond or river since its a water type?
These are a few examples of how you can use Pokémon Go and in a way, Pokémon Go is a shining example of the future of mobile technology in schools. Using GPS, Augmented reality, gamfication and digital citizenship and safety. In fact, I’m hoping to start a Pokémon Go Edu Elite League. Are you an educator using Pokémon Go? Then join up on twitter at: #PokemonGoEdu or if you have a Voxer Pro account, let’s set up a group and talk about the ways we can use it or are using Pokémon Go. We have an exciting new tool here and while there are pros and cons like any other tool, there are so many avenues to better education with it. Let’s use it! After all, we have to Catch them All!