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    What Is It with This Pokemon Go Thing Anyway?

    Everything Non-Gamers Need to Know…

    pokeGOlogoYou’ve been hearing about it ad nauseum, and you’re shaking your head at the bands of kids trespassing on your property in search of the Pokemon that’s apparently hiding in your backyard. You put up this meme:

    pokemongo

    Nevertheless, at least half the people walking down the street with their phones are clearly not 10, either. Some of us even have jobs. So what is the deal with Pokemon Go? Why do you hate it so much? Why does it feel so invasive? Why is everyone playing it in inappropriate places? Well, before you out yourself as the grumpy old person yelling at kids to get off your lawn, here’s what you need to know:

    

The Basics

    pokemonteams

    The teams are Valor (red – discipline), Instinct (yellow – intuition, and Mystic (blue – intellect). Players can choose a team at Level 5.

    Pokemon Go is a free app available for smartphones, an “augmented reality” game from The Pokemon Company and Niantic, Inc. This basically means that it puts virtual gameplay onto a map of the real world, and players interact with both. Pokemon Go is designed to get people out and about, to make them happier and healthier. It does this by generating virtual “pocket monsters” (that’s what Pokemon stands for), well known from previous Pokemon games and thus already favorites with fans, that appear on the phone screen.

    Players catch Pokemon with a flick of the wrist – throwing a virtual Pokeball toward the target. 

In addition to roaming Pokemon, the game also includes PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms. PokeStops are basically stationary rings that you can spin to get free items such as Pokeballs, which are used to catch Pokemon, along with eggs, which hold Pokemon inside and can be hatched if you do a certain amount of walking, and other enhancements. Gyms are places where players can battle each other. If you win a battle, you can take over the gym.

    Playing Pokemon Go is easy. Open the app, and the GPS finds your location. Your screen shows you which Pokemon are close, and where nearby PokeStops and Gyms are located. Start walking. You’ll find Pokemon along the way. At level 5, you can join one of three teams – Instinct (yellow), Mystic (blue), or Valor (red). Think of it as being sorted into a house at Hogwarts – your identification becomes tied in with these groups.

    

The Good

    artinst

    The Art Institute of Chicago posted a controversial Facebook post this week encouraging visitors to come find Pokemon inside – in this case, in front of its iconic Chagall windows.

    Pokemon Go is a game of discovery. It makes people get out and explore their neighborhoods, and it encourages socializing. My son has actually been getting off the couch this summer and going outside. Last night I took him to Ravinia Festival for an outdoor musical concert, and he talked to at least ten people about the game. We went to the zoo, where I’ve been volunteering every other week 20 years, and I didn’t recognize half the PokeStops because they were at statues and landmarks I’ve ignored in all my visits there. I had no idea they existed. In my hometown, I discovered a war memorial I must have passed 100 times, and never noticed before.

    Anecdotes already abound about how Pokemon is helping people’s mental health. And it’s giving local businesses a boost. Because Pokemon Go is so popular, entrepreneurs are trying to figure out how to utilize it for their own purposes and small businesses are seeing an uptick in sales from people coming in the door to find Pokemon. Pet shelters and museums and retailers are advertising the presence of Pokemon to get people in the door. (If you are looking for ways to leverage the popularity of the game, I recommend making an in-app purchase; spend $1 – 100 PokeCoins- and set off a lure, which will attract Pokemon and customers for 30 minutes after you activate it.) Also, T-Mobile just announced that data used to play Pokemon Go will not count towards its users’ data allowance.

    Ultimately, the addictive appeal for Pokemon can be a good thing. The goal of hatching eggs is already making more inroads than my Fitbit Alta in getting me to walk places, and I’ve never seen my son so excited to go places that might have Pokemon. The zoo! The botanic garden! The hardware store down the street, which has a gym! And there will be more ways for small businesses to leverage the game’s popularity, too, such as sponsorships that will turn them into portals.

    The Bad

    Screenshot_2016-07-14-23-02-49

    Here’s a screenshot of my phone, with a promotion that showed up on my feed from Binny’s Beverage Depot.

    As with any other engrossing app, Pokemon Go has people looking down at their phones instead of ahead. This can cause problems, because people not paying attention can cause accidents and such (although that traffic accident supposedly caused by someone playing the game is totally false, bad things are happening to players who are careless or who are putting themselves in danger). In addition, Pokemon tend to spawn everywhere, even places that aren’t necessarily friendly to the public, and Gyms and PokeStops can be located in unexpected locations.

    This is because, by the way, Niantic put out a previous game called Ingress, in which users submitted “portals” to be included on the virtual map that’s now basically being used for Pokemon Go. There are rules for these submissions, so PokeStops and Gyms do not interfere with private property, emergency services, or schools. Not all of these locations are completely current because things change so often in the real world, which is why players may end up in locations that don’t truly exist anymore (Please note: you can now submit requests to create portals in the game).

    There are other issues (for example, click here for the word on the game’s overly broad permissions ask). Different Pokemon are found in different locations, and at different times of day. So it can very well be dangerous for some people to play. I know a white man who feels uncomfortable loitering around parks where women and children are clustered. I’ve heard stories of black men who feel the game is too dangerous for them to enjoy, given the present climate. I’ve heard tales from physically disabled people who literally cannot access places where where Pokemon are found. It is not a perfect situation.

    

The Ugly

    Screenshot_2016-07-15-09-04-32

    A game screen, with map. The blue rings at the bottom are a PokeStop; click on it, and a photo of the landmark appears. You spin it to  get items. The darker blue landmark in the distance is a Gym, and it’s blue because right now it’s controlled by Team Mystic. On the bottom right of the screen, the white box tells you which Pokemon are near. If you click on a Pokemon as it appears, the screen changes to a camera image of what’s in front of you, with Pokemon superimposed and a PokeBall ready to “throw.” I caught a Rattata on my bed this morning…

    In the nine or so days that the game has been available, there’s been been a lot of buzz on the Internet, and much of it is bad. Any obsession, enjoyed without rules and not in moderation, can of course be dangerous, and there is etiquette to be learned and followed. The game is new, and people haven’t thought about the consequences of their actions yet (most of them have never heard of Ingress, so they don’t have experience with a game of this type). On the other hand, Pokemon Go gamers have been called many bad names by people who don’t understand the game’s appeal. The Internet is judgey, as usual. The comments sections should not be read.

    If Pokemon Go players are encroaching on your space, you have every right to say something. If they are breaking rules by sneaking in someplace that requires paid admission, that’s wrong. It’s true that there are currently PokeStops in some places that might be viewed as inappropriate – those places were put on the map by previous Ingress players and are only now being deemed offensive because of the number of people playing Pokemon Go. No one even noticed them before. In the past, however, Niantic (once a part of Google) has been responsive about removing them. The people who placed portals in these places most likely had good intentions – bringing people in, for example. It doesn’t mean players are being forced to use those stops, though. As more people play, and as everyone understands the problems of having Pokestops in these locations, things will change.

    But in my experience, it is both possible to stay out of the way of people while I’m playing Pokemon Go, and also be tolerant of people who are, after all, simply enjoying a fun little game that is getting them out and about. Just give players a little time to adjust. I’ll also remind the naysayers that the novelty will wear off – and although there will be updates and changes (an announcement about trading and other improvements has already been made), Pokemon Go – which is, after all, a fun game but not a really great one – will be much less appealing in the winter. At least, here in Chicago. If you live in Florida, you may be out of luck.

    If some kids do cross your lawn in search of Pokemon, feel free to channel the spirit of the game. Instead of yelling at them, why not ask them about it and make some new friends?

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    Episode 65: Betrayal!

    PonyIngress

    Look out! The Mommy Gamers are getting back on track with Elaine Stryker from Some Other Castle. This week they talk about Ingress on iphone, a female Thor, Shovel Knight, the Sims, Marcia’s new gaming PC, Weird Al’s new album and so much more. Get excited! Things are getting good again!

    Interested in supporting The Mommy Gamers? Earn exclusive rewards by becoming a patron on Patreon. Remember, you can subscribe to The Mommy Gamers podcast for FREE on iTunes and Stitcher or you can purchase The Mommy Gamers app through Podcast Box on iTunes or in the Amazon app store for Android. Don’t forget to follow them on Twitter, and Facebook too!

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    Episode 53: Out of Beta

    peixe-beta

     

    Marcia and Desirai are joined this week by their friend Joanna, a Mommy, a gamer and an Extra Life 25 hour marathon weekend survivor.  The ladies discuss their marathon experience, who lasted all night, what games they played and how they’re all way too old for gaming that long ever again. But hey, it was for a good cause right? You’ll be entertained with discussions about Ingress coming out of Beta, new television shows and Joanna’s mother-in-law’s gentle snoring in the background.

    For more of The Mommy Gamers fun, you can download their app on your Andriod device, or on Apple devices after downloading the Podcast Box app. You can also join in the fun by liking them on Facebook, or following them on Twitter.

    Oh, and if you liked the show, please leave us some feedback in the comments section.

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    Ingress Coming Out of Beta

    Ingress

     

    As I cruised around this morning sipping coffee and off-roading in my mini-van in an effort to hack portals, recharge resonators, and establish links and fields, I thought to myself…”Maybe I have an addiction.”  If none of that last sentence made sense to you, then you probably haven’t heard about Ingress.  Ingress is a near-real time augmented reality massively multiplayer online video game created by Niantic Labs, currently only available for Android devices, but rumored to be coming to Apple’s iOS sometime in 2014.

    I have been part of the beta version of Ingress and was excited to hear that the Beta phase is almost over!  On December 14, 2013, when Ingress’s worldwide 9-week, 39-city global player event, Operation#13MAGNUS concludes, Ingress will exit Beta. To me this means more players, more portals and more fun as the competition between the two opposing factions in the game ramps up to a whole new level.

    Prior to this announcement you needed a friend already in the beta to invite you, and those of us playing were gifted with only a precious few invitations to give out. Now, the invitation code requirement has been dropped, and all Android players can enter into the Beta phase. You can join the worldwide action that is Ingress, by downloading the game on Google Play here.  Join me in strengthening the Resistance, or join the Enlightened…either way, be prepared for a whole lot of fun and a cool new way to game.
    Intel Map_Worldwide

    As a thank you, Niantic Labs is gifting agents like myself who have supported them during the Beta a special one-time badge: The Founder Medal. Any Agents that have reached Level 5 by the Beta end date of December 14, 2013 will get this special achievement.

    If all that news isn’t exciting enough, they have also announced The Ingress Elite V challenge. Starting Monday, November 4th and running through the end of Operation #13MAGNUS on Saturday, December 14th, all Ingress Agents will be eligible to participate in a challenge to identify the five most elite Agents from around the world.  Winning Agents will be flown to California for Top Secret Ingress briefings in February 2014, as well as a special interview with Susanna Moyer from the Ingress Report.  Details on the Ingress Elite V challenge can be found here.

    Operation #13MAGNUS anomaly events have already begun all over the world launching a new chapter in global gameplay.  At the beginning of #13MAGNUS, the XM entity known as Roland Jarvis was shattered into 13 pieces. These shards scattered throughout the world. Now, Enlightened Agents, like myself (Viva La Resistance!) must reunite them in order resurrect their leader. Resistance Agents will be seeking to destroy the shards, and by doing so, rid the world of Roland Jarvis forever. This effort is literally spanning the globe as Agents from the over 200 countries where Ingress is currently being played cooperate to achieve their goal, leading to the final confrontation at the end of #13MAGNUS on December 14, 2013.

    The remaining #13MAGNUS Anomaly events will happen in the following cities:

    NOV 16 PRIMARY SITES:
    Dallas: http://goo.gl/xIOPHV
    Vienna: http://goo.gl/mZF46x

    REMOTE SITES:
    Austin: http://goo.gl/a33LRA
    Bratislava: http://goo.gl/VaLXum
    Graz: http://goo.gl/LISRXM
    Houston: http://goo.gl/JUhO0S
    San Antonio: http://goo.gl/bsJEXr
    Zurich: http://goo.gl/d9uv9v

    You can find a full listing of Operation #13MAGNUS dates and cities here

    Ingress Players Getting Ready in Seattle

    Ingress Players Getting Ready in Seattle

    I have had an incredible amount of fun playing Ingress and the communities formed for this game, both locally and globally just add to the fun of this experience. One of my favorite things about Ingress is that the game appeals to all ages, and in my encounters, I’ve found that the players are more my age range.  Let me know in the comments section if you are already part of Ingress and what faction you play for, or if you are planning to join us.

    “Ingress is a game of exploration and discovery in the real world, as well as a way to join in with an amazing global community of Ingress Agents,” said John Hanke , VP in charge of Google’s Niantic Labs. “Our journey over the past year has taken us to live events in more than 80 cities around the world, more than one million downloads of the Ingress app, and more than one million Portals discovered and submitted by Ingress Agents. Two ebooks, a comic book series, and a weekly YouTube show, ‘The Ingress Report’ paint a rich picture of the Ingress world. And Agents have made it their own with more than 2,000 Ingress user communities created on global social networks and countless designs for shirts, badges, jewelry and other objects. More than a dozen Agents have gone so far as to tattoo the Ingress logos on their bodies! A huge thank you to all of the amazing people that have been part of the Ingress journey so far. You have helped make Ingress what it is and have inspired us with so many amazing stories about meeting one another and finding new ways to explore and interact with our world. We can’t wait to see how players continue to make Ingress and the real world a more fun and inspiring place.”

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    Episode 51: The Handsome Headless Horseman

    Ep51_HandsomeHeadlessHorseman

    This week the ladies are joined by mommy gamer and industry veteran Bonny Paz. They talk about Duck Tales, Disney Infinity, Ingress, GTA V, Cortana to compete with Siri, World War Z, the new Sleepy Hollow tv show, an update on Desirai’s detox and more. Tune in for some good talk and great laughs.

    You can subscribe to The Mommy Gamers podcast for FREE on iTunes and Stitcher. Remember to follow them on Twitter, and Facebook too!

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