Pokémon Go, a mobile application for smartphones, has gone viral since its release in early July and has quickly become one of the world’s most popular games. It’s been reported that there are more users on Pokémon Go than Tinder and Snapchat, two incredibly popular mobile apps.
The objective of the game is to catch, battle and train Pokémon, fictional characters. Pokémon was extremely popular in the early to mid-2000s and has been revived thanks to the app. It’s available on iOS and Android devices.
What is it?
Pokémon Go uses real-world environment and overlays it with digital game play, which is known as augmented reality. What does that mean when using the app? To catch Pokémon, you use your camera as you normally would but fictional characters digitally appear on the screen. You then swipe up with a ball to catch Pokémon.
It’s like a themed version of geocaching but instead of searching for physical objects, you search for fictional, digital characters. Because it uses GPS, the app well-integrated with the surroundings regardless of where you’re located.
To battle others, you must physically go to “gyms,” a term given to notable locations around town, where you battle other users virtually. That’s one reason why you may have seen crowds of people on their phones at a single location.
How being a runner can give you an advantage
Because users earn points for distance covered, being a runner is a huge advantage, especially if you bring your phone on runs. Users pick up virtual “eggs” at Pokéstops (locations around the town or city) and they hatch after you walk (or run) a certain distance. Driving around will not count as distance covered. Eggs hatch into various Pokémon.
The categories for egg hatching are 2K, 5K and 10K. Having to cover distance to hatch eggs is arguably the best way for a runner to take advantage of their training habit. The more Pokéstops you visit, the more items you get. The more items you get, the faster your Pokémon will grow and evolve.
Experiment: Going for a run in search of Pokémon
A Canadian Running staffer took Pokémon Go for a run to see how many Pokémon could be caught and what the overall experience was like. Only parts of the 13K run in downtown Toronto registered on the app but overall, it was a great way to catch Pokémon.
Pokémon caught: Seven (Drowzee, Pinsir, Caterpie, Nidoran, Zubat, Gastly and Krabby)
Pokémon missed: One (Pidgey)
Actual distance run: 13K
Distance according to the app: 7K
Elapsed time: 73 minutes
Estimated Pokémon-catching time: 13 minutes
Data used: 20 MB
Battery used: 40 per cent from full
Positives: Because it requires people to go outside and explore the city, Pokémon Go can be a good motivational tool to stay physically active. Since the app uses GPS and real-world locations, it encourages people to explore parts of town that they may not have otherwise looked into.
When you’re moving around constantly, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll find Pokémon versus being inactive. The location of Pokémon are hidden, though there are hints, so the more area you cover, the better your chances are of catching some will be.
The app just became available in Canada as of July 17.
Negatives: It’s a huge distraction as once you find a Pokémon, you’ll be tempted to stop and capture them. Pokémon Go worked terribly with background apps running (Strava). It uses lots of battery and is super glitchy, which required multiple restarts of the app. The app used approximately 20 megabytes of data on the run.
Verdict: Despite being glitchy, the free app is a good way to get outside. Especially for runners looking to get in a few runs per week, giving yourself a “themed run” is always a good motivator.
As can be seen in the below video, being a runner may also give you an advantage when sprinting for rare Pokémon: