What do you do when you spot a wild Krabby perched on your stovetop? Or a rogue Magmar sitting on your colleague’s knee? You catch ‘em all.
Mumbaiites are braving the rains, pothole-ridden roads, angry bosses and peeved partners to play their part in the latest craze sweeping the gaming world — Pokémon Go. The augmented reality game is fairly easy to navigate. The app uses GPS to detect your location, then indicates nearby spots where critters can be caught. The further you step out of your comfort zone, the greater the chances to grow your tribe of Pokémon.
This weekend, you can attend a host of Pokémon Go events -- a bar crawl in Lower Parel; a midnight hunt in Bandra, as the rest of the players sleep; a walking tour at Juhu Beach, where participants must dress as Ash Ketchum.
But the game isn’t just another scavenger hunt, players swear.
“What makes it so addictive is the level of competitiveness,” says Ayan Paul, 25, a senior analyst at an MNC in Powai. “After Level 5, you can start playing at a team ‘gym’,where your Pokémon can battle others. I have coaxed, convinced and emotionally blackmailed colleagues into joining my team, so we can fight battles together during office breaks.”
For 19-year-old student Anthony Mendes, the game has also turned into a fitness challenge. “Pokémon Go requires players to physically reach different locations to catch characters, and I have walked nearly 120 kilometers since I started the game a week ago,” says Mendes, who has been following the game’s progress ever since its trailer released in September 2015.
Mumbaiites are showing off their jugaad skills too. Chandivli-based copywriter Aditya Nair, 25, says, “My friend and I booked an Uber to hunt for Pokémon at nearby locations, such as Andheri and Powai. We asked the baffled Uber driver to steer around from one spot to other, while we were fixated on our smartphones.”
Tany Joseph, 23, a creative director for a brand consultancy, admits to using bizarre tricks to speed up the game. “I had to cover a distance of 5 kilometers for a Pikachu egg to hatch. So instead of getting onto the road, I used a trick from a YouTube video. I tied my mobile phone with a string to the ceiling fan and let it spin very slowly. The GPS reads the movement of the device and allows the egg to hatch, without me having to physically walk the entire distance,” he says.
With car crashes and various injuries around the world, Pokémon fever has raised safety concerns as players walk with their eyes glued to smartphones. “I got carried away by the game, and went to capture a character called Gastly on the railway tracks at Kurla Station. I checked for any approaching trains in advance, but it was definitely risky, not something I want to repeat,” says Rohann Ghate, 31, creative director of a Marathi TV show.
This weekend, join the craze on Pokémon bar crawls, midnight walks and dress-up events around Mumbai. Ready, set, Pokémon Go!
Dress the part
Don the Ash Ketchum avatar by wearing his trademark gloves, jacket, cap and backpack, to a gathering where you can go scouting for Pokémon.“We have connected to like-minded fans over Facebook and Snapchat and are expecting at least 20 enthusiasts to turn up at the venue. We intend to record our Pokémon walk and put up an informative YouTube video about the game for the uninitiated,” says Aavin Ashta, 24, founder of the Pokémon Go Mumbai page on Facebook.
Where: Near the food stalls at the entrance of Juhu Beach
When: Saturday, 10 am onwards
Facebook Page: Pokémon Go Walk
Join a midnight prowl
Night owls can go for a four-hour midnight Pokéwalk hunt around Bandra, when the world is asleep. “Midnight is a great time to go out and play, because it is relatively quieter and there is little traffic to impede your movement. We are going to use lure modules at Pokéstops, which are spots to find Pokémon,” says Rishi Shah, 21, co-founder of Mumbai Riders, a cycle tour company that is hosting the event.
Where: Near Taj Land’s End, Bandra
When: Saturday, 11 pm to 3 am
Facebook Page: Midnight Pokéwalk Bandra
Form a tribe
Hosting a second edition of the meet are a group of individuals who met and bonded over the game at an impromptu meet up planned on July 9 at Marine Drive.“We met last week, for the first meet up at Marine Drive, which was not really well planned because it was a last-minute announcement.At 31, I was the oldest in the group and was a little awkward to be among a bunch of teenagers at first, but soon realised it’s a great way to make like-minded friends,” says Rohann Ghate.
Where: Meet near Burger King in Churchgate
When: Sunday, 4 pm
Facebook Page: Pokémon Go Meet Mumbai (Edition 2)
The folks organizing Pokéwalk Mumbai, which already has some 4,300 participants on Facebook, claim that their event is going to be one of the largest gatherings of Pokémon fans. “We had hoped to shout out to all those who are passionate about the game to hunt for exotic Pokémon on the walk. Soon, our Facebook page was inundated with messages from fans and now there are over 12,000 people who have expressed interest to attend the event, which is overwhelming!” says Tany Joseph, 23, the organizer.
Where: Meet near Burger King in Churchgate
When: Saturday, July 23, 5 pm onwards
Facebook Page: Pokéwalk Mumbai
Party with Pokémon
Want to grab a drink while looking for Pikachu? Participate in a Lower Parel bar crawl designed for Pokémon fans.“We will visit Pokéstops around Lower Parel, and grab celebratory drinks at six nearby bars through the night,” says Eshita Dharia, 23, co-founder of Latenight Mumbai, a nightlife portal that is hosting the event. “Our route will ensure a mix of partying and gaming.” There maybe a participation fee starting from around Rs 300 for this event.
Where: Lower Parel (Starting point to be decided)
When: Friday, July 29, 6 pm
Facebook Page: PokeGo Bar Crawl, Lower Parel!