By Lawrence Bentiné Jr
So picture this… It’s about 8:30pm or so and your Facebook starts slowly buzzing about Pokémon Go! THIS IS IT! THE MOMENT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! TO BE THE VERY BEST! LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS! You quickly download the app and take in what’s about to be the biggest thing since the original game. You’ve opened the game and go through the process of character customization. Professor Oak has been replaced by Professor Willow, a internet sensation because of his ridiculously good looks.
Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for… CHOOSE YOUR STARTER! Since this is dealing with GEN 1 they have Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. For those of you who joined in later it was revealed that Pikachu was a hidden option. Now personally I’m all for getting Squirtle. He’s crazy strong and always on the roster for the Elite 4. SO WHY IS THERE SUDDENLY A BULBASAUR IN MY BATHROOM? Apparently the early game glitches did this to a lot of people, but thankfully you can catch all the starters in the wild!
Playing took a lot of getting used to as there’s very little information within the game. So you mostly play and learn as you GO! (ALL THE PUNS INTENDED). I started on July 6th 2016 and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. I’ve played for an estimated 30+ hours within the last week and walked about 50 km. HOW DID I MANAGE TO DO THAT? I’ll explain. I work very many jobs and each job has unique Pokémon in their area. I also have a few stops and gyms close by to my jobs or home. In the summer I like to walk everywhere as it is, so this just added to that. I had my friends with me for most days playing with me for hours on end and keeping each other motivated with friendly competition.
The greatest things I’ve seen from this game is how everything works. In many cases friends or even strangers are seen helping one another. Whether loving it from the beginning or being brought into it with this, you’ve seen a dramatic shift in community. Part of the song says, “You teach me and I teach you…”, and never have I seen people come together so positively. Tragedy so often unites us and leave it to Niantic to give us the solution to world peace. One can only hope. There’s also the getting up and going part. You can’t just sit and play. You want that gym? Go walk, bike, skate, but whatever you do don’t drive. WHY? The game uses GPS AND your phone’s Pedometer to track your movement in the game. Some things may be too far to reach or like eggs require a lot of walking around to hatch. Like most things, it’s fun to play with friends, and helps keep the spirit of everyone up.
By Friday many of my own coworkers took to the game and decided to join in on the fun. It was met with confusion, frustration, and the sweet satisfaction of catching their first Pokémon. A large group of us split up and my buddy Nick, who joined me after work, decided that we should walk downtown as far as our legs would take us and meet his little brother Nate. I without hesitation said yes. So with the company of Nick and my coworker Serrin we walked down about 10 blocks and found a large group gathered. They not only were cheering each other on but exchanging information with people that they just met! I soon took part as I filled my Snapchat with my adventures. Meeting Rachel and her boyfriend Vick who we instantly hit it off with. Reconnecting the bros with my buddy Eddie. We spent 6 hours that night traveling the city in the hopes to find Mewtwo, but ultimately had the time of our lives.
Saturday was a fun filled day. Any day spent with Eric and Ethan are well spent. That day was spent not only promoting our upcoming events, Comic Bar Con (July 23rd at The Nutty Irishman Farmingdale 3-8pm) and Inbeon Con (August 27th at the Islandia Marriott 10am-6pm), but playing the game as research for this very article! There’s a few times Pokémon got away from me or gyms were just too strong. We eventually discovered how to track Pokémon and Gym System (It’s easier to take down a gym than it is to successfully hold one).We finally caught me not ONE but TWO SQUIRTLES!!! One comic shop Legendary Realms is a gym. Naturally most of their staff decided to take full advantage and make themselves a formidable gym. Level 6 gym and all TEAM MYSTIC. I didn’t even try it. 9 hours later I went home with a smile on my face and eager to continue my adventure. I’ll admit I spent at least 20 minutes in the downpour trying to see what the Lures would bring me.
Sunday I went upstate to see my family. To my surprise Chris (Nick’s brother) had downloaded the game but refused to play it. No worries as Nick and I would find new companions in my goddaughter Liani and nephew Zaes. Discovering that their town of Monroe was a gem of Stops, Lures, Gyms and new Pokémon to discover we enjoyed some BBQ and charged up our phones, eager to get our adventure started. We started with a quick walk around the neighborhood, hoping that we may catch a Wartortle, but with no success. We eventually grabbed the car, drove into town and continued our adventure there. We quickly realized that EVERYONE was playing this game. No matter age, race, gender, religion, new or old to the game, Pokémon Go brought so many people together. We saw husband and wives, mothers and daughters, a group of high schoolers, and a group of adults. With every group we asked “Pokémon Go?” which led to the follow up “Which team are you?”. The responses were immediately a huge smile followed by either a cheer or non-malicious boo, depending on which team you belong to. Teams aside we all hit the stops together, some gyms were taken. At one point I dropped a Lure and everyone immediately cheered as most saw and caught a Tauros. We played for 2 hours teaching each other what we’ve learned. How to spin the ball or how to best utilize items. It was truly a unforgettable experience. It was only made sweeter to realize I was the gym leader for two of the gyms and one was an EEVEELUTION based gym. (One of each). Evening came and we had to say our goodbyes. Nick and I decided to grab food and go on one more run in the park by his parents house. I really just wanted to take his brother Nate’s favorite gym. Server crashes and gym glitches aside we taught the neighbors grandson the ins and out and dropped a lure to get him started. An older couple approached and to my excitement were Team Instinct (Yellow) and began to ask about any tips and tricks we’ve learned. The boyfriend’s phone died and we showed him the Battery Saver trick.
He was appreciative. Nick took me home and took a gym by me, which I allowed so that he may get a Defender Bonus for.
It’s Monday. I’m still flying high on the thrill of the game. So many great memories and still a few days before it makes a week of my playing it. I come in and find most of the kids AND staff have taken part in the game now as well. They were eager to show me the Pokémon that they either caught or hatched. Tell me of gyms they took. What was new in our area. They immediately met me with a “AH MAN, HOW’D YOU GET OR DO THAT?” reaction after showing them what I had been up to. I didn’t play much during the day and even after due to some server issues, but Serrin (briefly), Nick, Nathaniel, and myself went from 91st to 34th. We took gyms. We hatched impressive eggs. At one point I took the Columbus Circle gym but that lasted mere moments. (Remember I said, taking gyms are easy, but keeping them are hard.) Servers up and servers down, but we made the most of it. Coldstone’s Ice Cream on a hot summer night does the trick. We didn’t bump into many other players, but learned that Team Instinct at the time had taken the Empire State Building’s gym!
It’s Tuesday, almost a full week since the game’s release. The memes are out of control, the fan theories are even more bizarre, and the Team Pride has friends more competitive than a Subway Series. There’s even job services as a result and I even heard people dating from it! I’ve spent countless hours traveling the city and running through my neighborhood. My snapchat went from excitement to trash talk to frustration ail within minutes sometimes. This game brings out the best and worst of us I suppose. I lost a Marowak by my place because my phone died. I lost Pikachu because by the time I got downstairs he was gone. My new bedtime is now somewhere around 2am. The craziest thing happened though…
At 1am Wednesday despite my best efforts to track down that Pikachu he got away from me. I decided to take over the gym in my neighborhood closest to me. I went home after having to reclaim it, because holding gyms are harder than taking them. It’s now 7:45am and I still am the gym leader of my gym! A whole almost 8 hours passed and I’m still on top? Truly I must be dreaming. I show this on my social media and to my friends at the job who are all in some disbelief. After not having an answer we decided to see how long my luck would last. In the meantime I showed off my Pokémon and despite my feeling like I “slacked” for a few days they all told me otherwise. It’s now 1:12pm and 12 hours later my 1062 CP Flareon is still holding the gym! Still uncertain as to how, I continued to track my progress throughout the day. 17… 17 hours later and my gym was defeated and I never felt more proud. What a moment! I wondered what would happen if I had more of my fellow Team Instinct friends to defend with me.
It’s been a long and productive week. Despite any negatives this game has truly united people. Brought together a huge community with one single game. It’s gotten people to be more active and with lack of any major tips and tricks from the game itself the players must create these for each other. I’ve seen more people discovering parts of their community and developing friendships than I have ever seen before. In a world so very divided and looking darker everyday could this game be the solution to World Peace? Could it end obesity? Overcome social anxiety for some? There’s so much this game has yet to show us but from what it has shown me already I’m excited for what’s to come. Stay tuned!