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Wisconsin Parent

Family Guide to "Pokemon Go"

Jul 12, 2016 02:19PM ● By Seth Langreck
In less than a week, Pokemon has regained its status as household name thanks to the release of "Pokemon Go," an app that allows families the chance to “catch ‘em all” with an augmented-reality scavenger hunt game. Families simply download it to their cellphones, walk around a real Google map of their city, and start catching all the Pokemon they can. And it’s not just kids and their parents who are getting in on the game, but the entire gaming nation

The game offers a great incentive to get kids outside and families to explore their neighborhoods together. With all this hype, some families may struggle with knowing the basics about "Pokemon Go."

Starting is Easy as 1-2-3

1. Download: "Pokemon Go" can be downloaded on your phone. You can download it from iTunes or Google Play

2. Accounts: Sign up for the game using your Google account, or sign up for a Pokemon Trainer Club account. Parents should use the Pokemon Trainer Club so they can add their kids and give them permission to play. 

3. Customize: You can pick your avatar’s hair color, eye color, shoes, etc. Once your avatar is customized, you set a gamer name. Since there are already millions of gamer names out there, don’t be upset if the name you want is taken. Once you have a name, start the hunt!

Know the Game Menu

Here are some definitions of the terms you’ll see on the app.

Professor Willow: Click the Pokeball at the bottom of the screen and then click “Tips” on the upper-right corner. Professor Willow, your guide through the game, will explain what the markers on the map mean.
Pokestop: a real world location where you can find Pokeballs and other items. This location generates items that families will need to use when playing the game.
Gym: a place where teams battle for control of these real world locations. These gyms are like weight rooms. Train your Pokemon here, and they’ll get stronger.
Pokedex: This lists the Pokemon you have caught or have seen in the game.
Shop: Use coins to buy Pokeballs and other items that your family could use. Warning: This shop also lets you use real money. Although the game is free, make sure you talk to your kids about the difference between earning coins and buying coins.
Items: This backpack stores items used throughout the game.
Pokemon: This allows you to see all the Pokemon you caught. If you left swipe, you can see all the eggs that you have collected.

Finding Pokemon

This game is about walking. My wife and I started walking from our home on West Avenue to Riverside Park in La Crosse. We both caught a Pokemon right away, but that wasn’t the case for very long. We continued to walk until a rectangle in the lower-right corner informed us if a Pokemon was nearby. We clicked on it and a small picture of a Pokemon appeared, along with footprints to tell us just how close.

We noticed that we weren’t paying enough attention to traffic, so I navigated as my wife played. For this and lots of great other reasons, we recommend joining in the hunt with your kids (see our other advice at the end of this article). 

Battling Pokemon

Once we saw a Pokemon on our map, the game was on. By tapping on it, it opened so we could start throwing Pokeballs at it, circles that increased and decreased in size to give it the appearance of being a moving target. Place your finger on a Pokeball and wait until the circles are at their largest before you throw one on the Pokemon. 

Once you hit the Pokemon with the Pokeball, it’s caught. The ball wiggles three times to signify it’s now part of your collection.

Don’t worry if you miss. It takes time to develop your own method. We went through countless balls as the night went on. 

Know the Map

Pokestops and gyms are cornerstones of the game. Pokestops are critical to maintaining your avatar during a battle. My wife and I noticed that public places, including hospitals, parks, and tourist stops, had the most Pokestops. 

Once we arrived at Riverside Park, it was a Pokemon party. From young families to groups of adults, everyone was playing. If fact, as we walked along the Mississippi River, we couldn’t find a person who wasn’t playing it!  

Words of Advice

Data: If your family is on a limited data plan, "Pokemon Go" will eat it up. If your family walks around for 30 minutes playing the game on multiple devices, don’t be surprised if you go over your data limit. 

Battery: This game needs a massive amount of battery power. Even if you use the game’s energy saving feature, it’s still going to drain your battery. Keep a charger on hand or a cellphone power bank. 

Traffic: Always keep your eyes on the road. Even in places with minimal traffic, there are people playing games or riding bikes. It’s important to be mindful and polite to others as you walk past them. Step aside of the sidewalk while you’re battling, for instance.

Safety in General: While traffic is a big one, safety is always a consideration. Use common sense; explain to young children they can’t go hunting alone, and counsel older kids about venturing into unknown areas and general conduct around strangers.

Popularity: "Pokemon Go" is surpassing the expectations of its developer. Although my wife and I have played the game multiple times already, we failed to log in several times due to too much traffic on its server.