It was 1998; I had a special edition Pikachu yellow Gameboy Color. I couldn’t imagine that 20 years later I’d be confusing patrons of VenTiki who were just there to have a cocktail as they sat unknowingly on the patio of a Pokémon “gym” while I searched for Pokémon.
Pokémon GO is the latest trend in augmented reality gaming, or ARG, developed by Niantic and published by the Pokémon Company. Utilizing real-world locales, the game sets players off on a quest to — you guessed it! – catch ’em all.
Using beacons created by Niantic’s previous ARG Ingress, the game generates various spots where Pokémon and other items can be collected: PokéStops, where free items like PokéBalls (which are used to capture Pokémon) and Pokémon eggs (which themselves hatch and become Pokémon), can be found; and Pokémon Gyms, which are “capture the flag”-style locations where members of the three various teams (Valor, Mystic and Instinct) battle for control.
In between these stops are the Pokémon themselves, which wander the land, searching far and wide, just for you. Yes, you. You are special.
A little-reported-on phenomenon of the game, however, is the influx of new players into the original ARG: Outdoors. Outdoors is a long-running and somewhat popular title from the makers of Earth from developer God.
Outdoors is a free-to-play, open-world role-playing game currently on Patch 2016 A.D. So-called “microtransactions” exist in the form of purchasing food for your avatar to survive and paying rent for your avatar and its fully-customizable home, which can range in size from a cardboard box to obscene temple to personal indulgence.
Depending on your class (which is assigned to your avatar at creation), you may or may not be given a head start in the world of Outdoors (addressed in the later Social Justice expansion pack).
A few notes about interacting with the environment in Outdoors while chasing Pokémon in Pokémon GO.
1. You can enter any unlocked door you choose, but use caution as many residences are private and will cause non-playable characters (NPC) to become hostile if you barge in to take rare Pokémon.
2. While Pokémon can be found anywhere there happens to be a designated landmark, hunting for Pokémon in certain places is not encouraged (example: Holocaust Museum or the gravesite of social activist Rosa Parks). Users who placed points in “morality” when leveling will have a better shot at success in judging when and where to toss PokéBalls.
3. While in the world of Outdoors, you may run across other players, some of whom may also be after Pokémon but many of whom are not. Some of these other players may be hostile, so Pokémon GO players are encouraged to keep an eye on their surroundings and make sure to stay in non-PVP (player vs. player) areas. Examples of PVP areas include community parks at midnight and alleyways that fill you with a sense of dread. Hint: If you stumble across a dead body (as several players have), you have stumbled into a PVP zone and should retreat. Consequences of ignoring PVP markers can result in vicious stabbings, beatings and atomic wedgies. Not paying attention in itself can result in falling from cliffs or slamming into trees while driving one of the many vehicles available in Outdoors. You will lose all progress if your avatar dies.
4. It’s considered good form to purchase something if you make your way into a business while Outdoors in search of Pokémon. Shop owners may reward you by dropping lures to attract further Pokémon shenanigans.
By following these rules you will have a glorious experience forcing wild animals into slavery to battle for you, perhaps to the death. Ah, a childhood dream comes true!
Chris O’Neal saw a grown man dressed like Pikachu the other day and kindly asks him to knock it off. Follow him (Chris, not the PikaMan) on Instagram @atchrisoneal.