Pokemon Go no longer needs an introduction at this point. This simple mobile game is now a phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm. I’m fairly certain that nobody could have foreseen just how huge this thing would be. I know I didn’t expect such an intense adoption rate. This will go down as one of those historic things that has captured the minds of so many people like Tamagotchi or Beanie Babies. It’s rare to see something of this magnitude and I’m enjoying every minute of the ride despite the server issues that have plagued the experience thus far. Since the day Pokemon Go was available to the masses I have hit the ground running and haven’t looked back in pursuit of finding all these imaginary beasts. Actually, because of how much I’ve been into this I’m extremely late to getting this editorial out.
Where it all began
Admittedly, I loved the very first Pokemon games for the original Gameboy. I was that guy that bought both Red and Blue versions, two Gameboys, and a transfer cable (no wireless here boys and girls) to “Catch ‘em all.” This was back in high school almost 20 years ago. There I was walking down the halls of my high school head tucked down and eyes focused on that tiny green and gray screen between classes. I was hooked and didn’t stop until I had found/completed every task within the game. This was nothing new for me as I was a die-hard gamer, as I still am today, but something about this game captured my inner child and never let go. My love for this digital world where I caught imaginary creatures carried me through well into the Gameboy Advance years. After that though, it lost its appeal to me. Maybe it was over exposure or the fact that I skipped the entire DS era. I still don’t own a Nintendo DS as I’m just a Sony guy at heart. Plus, as an adult I didn’t have nowhere near the time to devote to video gaming as I did as a youth.
So that’s one part of where this all started for me. It was the same introduction to Pokemon that many of you reading this experienced. The other beginning for me was Ingress! I was a diehard Ingress player from the first week of closed beta. I remember getting my invite and freaking out. This was my first experience with augmented reality gaming and from the time I logged into my scanner (the app for all you non-Ingress players) and sided with the Enlightened (one of two teams you can pick) I was in love. During my three years of play I made it to level eight twice over, grew a pretty great reputation for my ferocious/relentless play, and worked on several international operations with both Enlightened and Resistance agents. For three years this game consumed every bit of free time I had until eventually I had to step away. I just couldn’t do it anymore. Once you’ve reached the pinnacle of anything one can only be content for so long. So I took leave from Ingress and have only opened up the app every couple months. There just hasn’t been anything appealing enough for me to step out into the world to game until now…
Knowing your roots
If Pokemon isn’t your thing OR you’re just interested in what helped create the game I highly suggest Ingress. Niantic built Pokemon Go on the backbone of Ingress and if you had any experience with Ingress this all felt like familiar territory. I honestly had no idea that Niantic was literally going to transfer a large sum of the Ingress portals over to Pokestops and Gyms. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the three portals within two blocks that I had submitted to Niantic for Ingress had found their way into Pokemon Go. I immediately knew the best spots to go for items and Pokemon which gave not only myself an advantage but also my family which have decided to play with me. I know where each and every Stop/Gym is within about a 20 mile radius, I know where to park, and most of all I know several hidden spots that most people don’t currently know about.
Ingress has been around for a couple years now and as time has went on it’s gotten really fleshed out. There’s a bunch of stuff that it has that we can possibly look forward to in the future. One such feature is the Ingress Intel map. This web based map allowed all Ingress players to find portals, links, and fields within the game.I’ve actually been using the Ingress Intel map to scout for good spots to go find Pokemon not in my immediate area. I’m fairly certain that in the near future Niantic will offer something similar for Pokemon Go to find Poke Stops/Gyms. Also much like Niantic added weapons, mods, and items as time went on I’m sure they will adopt a similar formula to Pokemon Go to keep players coming back for more. Shortly after leaving closed beta Niantic introduced Anomalies to Ingress. These are basically organized events to pit one team against the other. The rules have changed from one anomaly series to the next but if one hits your city it’s something you definitely want to attend. This is something that we will definitely see adapted to Pokemon Go in the near future where I’m sure they will make only the rarest of Pokemon available.
These are things that I’ve grown to expect from Niantic and what I see possibly happening. One way or another it is probably a good idea to at least login to Ingress to give it a look. It’s a mighty fun game with more of a competitive edge and a fully established tight knit community ready to help you. At the very least you will garner an idea as to what the future holds for Pokemon Go.
What Niantic should stay away from and what they’ve done right
During my tenure as a local Enlightened leader of sorts while playing Ingress I have pretty much seen it all and because of this I have a list of things that I don’t wish to see happen with Pokemon Go as well as things Niantic has done right so far. First up is to keep the focus on collecting the Pokemon themselves. Yes we can compete at gyms but I’d be willing to bet that most Pokemon players are more interested in catching all the Pokemon. In Ingress the entire focus is capturing MU (Mind Units) which basically equates to claiming a section of the map for your team. The competitive nature of Ingress almost instantly spawned a ton of bickering between teams and sometimes even within each team. In some cases it’s actually came to the point of physical altercations. Yes it’s absolutely silly for anyone to go that far over a video game but we all know that people aren’t always the “sharpest tools in the shed.” Niantic should not forget that a sizable portion of Pokemon Go players are children so try to keep the focus off of being competitive.
Which brings me to my second feature I would not like seen in the game and something awesomely omitted thus far, chat. Ingress comms (chat) were/are, at times, a rather nasty thing to read. Children don’t need to see the foul mouthed ego stroking that goes on there. Nor do they need access to all the weirdos out there that may wish to do them harm. Leave the communication to the players and the parents. Comms became almost useless anyhow. Other than the occasional hello to a friend or unless you were in unfamiliar territory and wanted to reach out to locals it was just not a useful tool. Nothing in faction comm was secure as agents from the other side always had alternate accounts (which is frowned upon) to spy on the other side. So ultimately I can’t see anything good coming from chat in Pokemon Go. Keep it out Niantic!
I’d just like to say I unapologetically love Pokemon Go as I did Ingress before it. I look forward into seeing it grow and flourish into a wonderful community of individuals like Ingress did. To do this though we all need to respect one another and the areas we play in. Stay away from driving while playing, don’t trespass, and be friendly with your fellow trainers. It’s a lovely thing to see so many of you out there playing and I hope to see you all in the field soon. Now if you will excuse me there is a Dragonair in my backyard that’s begging for me to throw an Ultra Ball at it.