Pokémon Go has been out for a month, and so far it’s taken the globe by storm. When I first saw the trailer, I was intrigued by the premise, but ultimately not that excited.
Then when the game came out and everybody was talking about it, I had to give it a try.
I’m glad I did. Despite so many server issues and glitches in the game, Pokémon Go is easily the best mobile game I’ve ever played.
Here are 8 neat things that happened to me while playing the game.
1. Finding Marjorie Bailey’s ghost
Okay, so this first story didn’t happen directly to me, but it’s the story that convinced me to download the game.
In college, me and five of my friends rented a house together. It was the first time this house had been rented, as the previous owner was a recently deceased old lady.
While looking through one of the drawers, we discovered an old campaign poster for a woman named Marjorie Bailey. We concocted a fantasy that Marjorie Bailey was the woman who died, and now haunted the house.
Fast forward seven years. My college friends and I had a reunion at my parents’ place. Before he came over, one of my former roommates drove past our old house.
And what did he find? A Ghastly in the front yard! He caught it, and promptly named it “MargeBailey.”
Her ghost exists after all!
2. Finding a Krabby in the seafood section
A couple days later, I downloaded the game on the way to the grocery store. I was with Mom, so my job was to push the cart. While in the store, I opened up the game. The first Pokémon I caught was a Krabby, conveniently sitting in the frozen seafood section!
Then I caught a Pidgey next to the chicken.
3. Opening up my imagination
After that first experience catching Pokémon, I walked around my neighborhood, smartphone in hand. Pokémon kept popping up: Rattatas, Pidgeys, Caterpies, and Spearows. While the game has its flaws, still the most exciting aspect is imagining that Pokémon actually exist, and that they inhabit our world!
While I rarely play with Augmented Reality turned on, the camera feature is a nice touch. For a few moments, I get close to realizing a fantasy that’s been living in my head for 20 years.
4. Finding my first lures
A friend and I had a couple hours to kill before dinner, so we took out our smartphones and started exploring downtown.
A couple minutes later we found a pack of teenagers roaming the city. They told us there was an Abra around the corner, and they were really excited that they caught it.
My friend and I went from Poké Stop to Poké Stop. I looked on the map and saw that one Poké Stop a few blocks away had drifting purple hearts over it. I knew this had to be a lure.
We went to the Stop, and sure enough, the kids we saw earlier had placed a lure. There was a second Poké Stop feet away, so they put a lure on that as well.
For the next 30 minutes, we caught Pokémon after Pokémon. And those lures attracted many others, players more experienced than us, who shared tips on how to get ahead.
We met a dozen people during that half hour. Almost everybody was the stereotypical nerd: a bit goofy looking, a bit socially awkward, but also entirely nice. I was in the company of my people, and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had with the game.
5. Meeting the boys at the mall
I learned early on that high population areas have more Poké Stops, and thus more Pokémon. My neighborhood was pretty barren, plus it was the height of summer, 90+ degrees outside. I headed to the local mall where activity was buzzing.
Upon entering the mall, I found two Poké Stops, each with lures on them. I sat down in the food court and started playing.
Within seconds, two boys and their father were standing behind me, looking over my shoulder. The game had been out less than a week, so most people still didn’t understand how it worked.
I showed the boys my Pokémon, and they watched as I caught a Pidgey and Spearow. They were so excited to see Pokémon pop up right in the food court! They hadn’t played the game yet, and likely didn’t have smartphones themselves.
But I suspect they asked their dad to download it on his smartphones as soon as they left the mall.
6. Playing Pokémon Go at church
A couple weeks after the game dropped, my church (Methodist) decided to get in on the action. The church was a Poké Stop, so one forward-looking congregant suggested hosting lure events on the front steps.
Every Sunday and Wednesday nights at 7 the church drops a lure. They have music playing and provide snacks and ice tea to anybody interested. Kids, along with their parents, come out to play. Even the pastor plays!
The lure events have been very successful. Sometimes people simply pass by, but for others it’s a friendly, nonthreatening way to talk to people at the church.
Spiritual conversations don’t happen often, but that’s okay. The church should touch peoples’ lives where they are at. What a great way to show the world that Christians can indeed play video games in a safe, healthy way.
7. Evolving my first Eevee
One of my all-time favorite Pokémon is Eevee. She’s so cute, and her ability to evolve into many different forms is so much fun.
When I played Pokémon X and Y, I stuck my toe into the competitive waters. I’d always liked Jolteon, but this game cemented my love for Eevee. I trained a Jolteon and Vaporeon and picked all the right moves. They were the foundation of my fighting team.
Lots of Pokémon Go trainers have Jolteons, Vaporeons, and Flareons. But I have such difficulty finding Eevees!
Finally, after catching hundreds of Pokémon, I had enough Eevee candies to evolve. I spent the 25 candies, and got 950 CP Vaporeon! After training, my Vaporeon is at nearly 1100 CP, and still has room to grow.
Now I just need a Jolteon.
8. Finding a board gaming group
Last night while hanging out at a Poké Stop I met a professor from the university. I met him last year, so I knew him well. He had just started playing the game, and Pokémon was a new concept to him.
We got talking, and he told me that he and his husband host a board gaming group with other professors from the university! I moved to Bloomsburg, PA a year ago and thus far haven’t had any success finding fellow board gamers.
When I lived in Florida (while getting my PhD) and in North Dakota (as an adjunct professor) I had great board gaming groups. That was one of the things I really missed when I came to PA.
But now it’s okay; I’ve found a group again! It’s amazing how Pokémon Go, at its best, is a conversation starter. It gives you something to talk about, whether it introduces you to new people, or introduces you to existing friends in new ways.
If you have had any fun experiences playing Pokémon Go, please share in the comments!