Photo cred:  fin24tech

What the heck is Pokémon GO?

At SchoolAdivsor, we usually provide info to schools, helping them buy better. But, with all this hype about Pokémon GO, we thought we’d let you know what it’s all about.

Have you noticed your pupils walking around with their phones out, going from place to place? There is a good chance they are playing Pokémon GO. Pokémon GO is a free-to-play, location-based, augmented reality mobile game.

In simpler words: it’s free; it uses your phone’s GPS to track you walking; and it’s a view of the real-world environment with computer-generated elements (Pokémon, Pokéballs, Gyms, etc).

Here is the official video from Niantic, the company who developed the game:

Pokémon GO slang

I have personally caught the Pokébug, as I find myself endlessly walking around looking for Pokémon and trying to hatch my eggs. Before we get into the details of the game, though, here are all the NB terms that you will most probably hear your students talking about:

Pokémon – Fictional creatures which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and train.
Pokéballs – Used to catch Pokémon.
Eggs – An object from which Pokémon hatch.
Factions – These are the teams you’re asked to join after reaching level 5 (Red-Team Valor, Yellow-Team Instinct, or Blue-Team Mystic).
Gyms – Controlling gyms is what the game is all about. Located at points of interest and landmarks, gyms are where the battles between players and their Pokémon take place. Available when trainers reach level 5 and have chosen their faction.
Pokéstops – Places to collect items such as eggs and more Pokéballs to capture more Pokemon.

How it works

Now that we know all the important terms used in Pokémon GO and have learned all the Pokéslang, check out this video explaining the basics of the game:

If you don’t have time to watch the video, here’s the game in a nutshell: you walk around with the Pokémon GO app open on your smartphone (iOS or Android), looking for Pokémon to catch. Your phone will vibrate when a Pokémon is close enough to catch.

To catch them – swipe your finger up on the screen and a Pokéball will be thrown. Throw the Pokéball straight enough, and Pokémon will be caught (if it decides to stay in).

The main aim of the game is to catch all the Pokémon – as the original song goes, “gotta catch them all.” There is way more to the game, but these are the fundamental basics.

Is Pokémon GO available in South Africa and how can I install it?

Yes. After a long wait, Pokémon GO is available to download from the Google Play Store and Apple Store respectively. So, you or your students can download and play the game on either your Android or iOS device (if you don’t already have it). Pokémon GO is currently available over 100 countries around the world.

The risks of Pokémon GO

Anyone who has played Pokémon GO will tell you how fun the game is, but what about the risks of playing? Forbes has a handy video on the risks of Pokémon GO and how families can avoid Pokémon GO dangers:

You can also read Carey van Vlaanderen’s (CEO at cyber security firm ESET Southern Africa) five tips on how to play Pokémon GO safely.

A note to the educators

As educators, you need to carefully monitor your students:

  • How many hours per day do they spend playing the game?
  • Are they struggling to focus on their work?
  • Do they daydream about Pokémon GO in class?

If you can keep your student’s Poképsych under control, it can surely be a fun and even healthy game to play. Now go out and catch a Pokémon for yourself and see how fun it is! Your students will look at you in a whole new way if you are out there catching Pokémon with them.

In closing

We think Pokémon GO is a very fun game and has a lot of good going for it. We like that it promotes an active lifestyle, as you have to walk long distances to get further in the game. Parents can also easily join in on the fun and go on Pokéwalks with their children, adding to the social aspect of the game.

Yes, there are some potential dangers that we should be aware of and avoid at all cost. But, if we stay alerted of our surroundings and follow the above-mentioned tips, we can all enjoy the game together.

We encourage you, as a teacher or headmaster, to engage with your students and talk to them about Pokémon GO. They are going to play it, so you might as well ensure that they are prepared and safe.

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