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Go catch ’em all, the Pokémon way

Doing the Pokemon walk

smartphone Updated: Jul 23, 2016 07:50 IST
Pokemon

Pokemon fans at the India Gate lawn, Delhi (Sanjeev Verma / HT Photo)

By now you must have heard of the Pokémon craze that has taken over the world. So, here at Hindustan Times we decided to jump on the bandwagon and catch some Pokémon too. Even though the game has not ‘officially’ reached India, the Pokémon definitely have. Youngsters in Delhi are big fans of the game and have been wandering around town, trying to catch Pokémon, to build their dream team.

For Pokémon lovers, several walks have been organised in the capital this Sunday, turning the game into a social activity and its enthusiasts into a community.

(HT Photo)

To give our readers an idea on what might be in store at the Pokewalk, we asked one of the organisers to set up a preview, a mock walk. Performers’ Consortium, a collective for independent performers and PokeHunt India has one such walk planned on Sunday and decided to walk us through it. [see box].

Assuming our roles of Pokémon Trainers and armed with Poké Balls, we start our search for the virtual creatures from Bikaner House at Pandara Road. [The Sunday walk will, however, start at India Gate then go on to Pandara Road and end with a meal at Smokey’s BBQ and Grill in Khan Market.] This is a route where you might find interesting Pokémon such as Venonat, Machop, Pidgeotto, Hitmonlee and Kabuto, suggests Manu Kamath of Performers’ Consortium.

Watch: How Pokemon Go is taking over people's lives

“It is crazy how suddenly we have gone back to our childhood. I used to have these conversations with people in the sixth grade and we’re having them again,” says Kamath.

Half the fun of Pokémon Go is tracking down new creatures. As we walk towards India Gate, Kamath tells us how his group has been sharing Pokémon sightings and trying to map them. Last week, a developer in New York pulled the data of these sightings and figured a way to make a Google map that displays every Pokémon around. Kamath and group are attempting the same but on a much smaller scale.

Read: Why Pokemon Go is just the beginning of the story

At the India Gate hexagon, we find two Poké Gyms (places where you can train Pokémon) and at least five PokéStops (locations marked in your in-game map to find items like Poké Balls and eggs that can hatch into full Pokémon).

People of all ages playing Pokemon games at India Gate, Delhi. (Sanjeev Verma / HT Photo)

“All of us, as kids, had dreams of becoming Pokémon Trainers. What this thing does is makes that dream come true,” says Aditya Pai, a undergraduate student. Players enthusiastically recall Ash Ketchum, the star trainer from the Pokémon cartoon in the ’90s, and his friends Brock and Misty.

Closer to the India Gate, Rahul Miranda, a High Court lawyer accompanying us, was the first to find a Pokémon. Our first sighting was an Ekans, a virtual, purple-yellow snake projected on the India Gate on his screen.

For Miranda, the game is an escape, which allows him to delve into the virtual world after a long day at work. “It also takes people to the outside world. The game makes you walk, a lot. I walked from my house in Kotla to Khan Market and back one morning because different Pokémon appear at different times in the day,” says Miranda.

Read: When shares fell after the Pokemon craze

An hour-and-a-half later, our hunt ends at the Rajpath-India Gate crossing with a final tally of three Ekans, two Marchops, two Zubats, one Magikarp and a egg that hatched into a Charmander.

“They [Game creators] have brought the virtual into the real. This is the beauty of this game. People who are not usually gamers are doing it because of the philosophy behind it,” believes Miranda. “It makes you get out because of your phone, not despite your phones.”

The short Pokémon Go walk is over but the excitement and the hunt continues, at least till the ever-elusive Pikachu is ours. Because, you gotta catch ‘em all!

Pokémon is short for the original Japanese Poketto Monsuta or Pocket Monsters. Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect your location and time to make a Pokémon appear around you, for you to catch with a first-person view on your phone. (HT Photo)

What is Pokémon Go?

For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an “augmented reality” video game played on your smartphone. It is the latest in the long list of Nintendo-owned Pokémon franchise. The first time Pokémon caught the popular imagination was in the late 1990s, when it was first released for Game Boy (a hand-held video game device) in 1996 .

Released on July 6 in some parts of the world, Pokemon Go has since surpassed 30 million downloads. Pokémon are fictional creatures that you (Pokémon Trainer) catch and train to battle against each other. The name Pokémon is short for the original Japanese Poketto Monsuta or Pocket Monsters. Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect your location and time to make a Pokémon appear around you, for you to catch with a first-person view on your phone.

Pokémon Go uses the smartphone’s GPS and clock to detect your location and time to make a Pokémon appear around you in your phone, while you are playing it. You catch Pokémon and add them to your team. As you move around, different and rare Pokémon appear, depending where you are and when.

It all started as an April Fool’s joke video shared by Google in 2014 that mashed Google Maps and Pokémon. The video went viral. Niantic, the team behind it, that has since become an independent company, turned that joke into reality.

The concept behind the game is to encourage you to travel around the real world to catch these creatures on your phone. It’s a game that blends the virtual world into a real one, and this interaction is known as augmented reality. Pokémon’s designer, Satoshi Tajiri, who was an avid insect collector as a child, melded his hobby with love of anime and Japanese monster movies. Pokémon Go keeps Tajiri’s sense of nostalgia alive, for the outdoors, for the excitement of exploring the world around you.