You might be wondering why Huddersfield’s longest established window company is posting about a Pokemon Go, a mobile phone game? Well i must be honest it’s never something I expected to be producing content for Gardinia about either. It all came about when myself and Terri started a mini series on the Gardinia Facebook page showcasing our makeshift home offices, intended as bit of light-hearted humour in this strange unprecedented time, where 50% of the company can’t legally operate due to government restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Well these Facebook posts caught the attention of the media company Gardinia has partnered with, who suggested we should keep posting more light light-hearted social media content and blog posts during this time. Pokemon Go was suggested as a blog post topic myself and my colleague Michael could talk about.

The email that started it all

The more I thought about it the more this seemed a good idea, It’s no secret myself along with Michael from our Spares4Repairs team are really in to Pokemon Go, however no one else in the company really understands what the game is about (and probably thinks were pretty crazy walking about playing the game too!) so this seemed like a great idea to explain what the game is about and show theirs a large community of players around Huddersfield hiding in plain sight, along with some good health benefits too.

Note: You should not be out playing this game at the moment due to COVID-19, screenshots in this blog are from long before the country was locked down.

So What Is Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game, meaning locations & objects in the real world are both used and enhanced by the game, when the player is physically at real world locations.

This is what Pokemon Go looks like from the Gardinia office looking up towards town, we have Leeds Road on the left, with Southgate in front of us, as can be seen on Google Maps:

Essentially the virtual world used in Pokemon Go made up of data from OpenStreetMap, meaning the in game Pokemon world accurately reflects the size of the real world.

In turn this allows Pokemon Go to be played just about anywhere in the world, with the exception of a few countries such as China and North Korea where the game is blocked for political reasons. It’s even possible to play in Pripyat, inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone… not that I recommend going to try that out!

How do you play Pokemon Go?

In its most basic form the main goal of Pokemon Go is to catch and register one of every Pokemon in your Pokedex as you walk around in the real world. The Pokedex is essentially an encyclopedia of Pokemon, with some Pokemon been a lot more rare than others, some even exclusive to different parts of the world.

Pokemon appear on the game world map. To have a chance at catching them you simply click on the Pokemon to start an encounter:

A screenshot taken in Ravensknowle Park, Moldgreen – showing an example of a Gym, Pokestop and various Pokemon that can be caught in the park

When encountering a Pokemon the idea is to try catch it in a Pokeball, you can throw berries at it to increase your chance of catching it, along with doing trick shots (curveball). Both luck and skill is involved.

Below is an example of a Pokemon encounter in AR mode (augmented reality) on Byram Street, you can see the game uses your phones camera to overlay the Pokemon in the real world:

A screenshot showing a Pokemon been captured in AR mode, by the Parish Church in Huddersfield

To move around the game Pokemon Go uses the GPS in your mobile phone, so the game always knows exactly where you are when playing the game. When you walk around, you move around in the game also.

Just like when using Google Maps you might see pubs and parks near by, you will see near by points of interest (POI’s) on Pokemon Go as you walk around Huddersfield.

For example the Train Station, Parish Church and Ed Clancy’s Golden Postbox are Pokestops in the game (along with many other 100’s of POI’s around Huddersfield):

POI’s can either be one of two thins in Pokemon Go, Pokestops or Gyms.

  • Pokestops – give you items to help catch Pokemon
  • Gyms – Groups of people can meet at a gym to team up and try defeat a raid boss, this is usually a rare Pokemon that is much stronger than anything you can find out playing solo. This is where the local community of Huddersfield comes in as you will not be able to win such a battle yourself. Usually you would arrange a time to meet up with a few other local people also about via Facebook, to take on the raid boss in the time window it is present at a particular gym.

The Pokemon Go Community in Huddersfield

At the time of writing the Pokemon Go Huddersfield Facebook group has near enough 1900 members. As you can see below the monthly community day events have a great turn out for raids, even more so in the summer months:

Some of the Pokemon Go Huddersfield Community at a raid in Greenhead Park back in 2019

In Huddersfield a significant part of the community is active in the town center, due to that been the most accessible place and populated well with POI that appear in the game. Likewise Greenhead park is also very popular due to it been a nice place to play and also populated well with Pokestops and Gyms.

Of course local areas can have quite an active community also, however its not usually worthwhile someone visiting a local area at the other side of town to where they live. If your going to travel to play the game then the town centre or Greenhead Park make much more sense. That said we have an active local community group chat on Facebook in my local area, where raids are arranged on evenings and weekends. As it turns out two people who live on the same street as me are also in to Pokemon Go, with quite a few others in the local area also playing daily.

Health Benefits of Pokemon Go

Obviously to play Pokemon Go how its intended to be played you have to be out and about, interacting with others also playing the game. So at the moment in time with the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis I would not encourage anyone to be playing out this game.

That said when the world is a more normal place the game gives you weekly walking goals which reset each Monday. These are 5k, 25k and 50k, if you walk or cycle this distance in a week then you get extra in game rewards.

What’s good about this is the walking distance includes walking done when you are not actively playing the game. Pokemon Go is able to sync with the health app on your phone, so if your walking about with your phone in your pocket, the phone is used as a pedometer, so any walking you do at work for example is also counted. Likewise if you have a smart watch that can track the distance you walk, the game is able to make use of this data also.

So for example if you have managed to walk 45k in a week, then theirs a good incentive to go out on Sunday afternoon and get that last 5k in to you hit the top tier of rewards, which can often be rarer in game items, allowing your Pokemon to be powered up, in turn benefiting you in the game.

Likewise if you look around on YouTube you will find videos people have made talking about how Pokemon Go has helped with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

In general I’ve found since playing Pokemon Go I’ve done a lot more walking than I normally would have done which can only be a benefit when my job involves been sat at a computer all day. When COVID-19 became a lot more real I also started walking to and from work every day, to do my bit and avoid public transport and other people where possible. Apart from getting up a lot earlier than I’d like, I found this was easy enough to do, with Pokemon Go providing a good distraction to what was not the most scenic walk in the world in to Huddersfield.

To Conclude

Many people around Huddersfield of all age groups can be found out and about playing Pokemon Go, the average age range of people playing the game is probably around 25-35 if I had to guess, essentially people who grew up with Pokemon in the 90s when it was a big phenomenon then.

Although people of all ages play the game, I’ve bumped in to people my age out playing the game with much older family members. Likewise I’ve seen parents out playing the game with their young kids as a family, many students at Huddersfield University also play the game. Pokemon Go really is a game people of all ages can enjoy and are doing so in Huddersfield.

As someone whos played a lot of games on various platforms since the early 90’s, Pokemon Go is by far the most unique game i’ve played. I’ve never continuously played a game almost daily going on 4 years either, so for a game to hold my attention for that long and offer health benefits, that can only be a good thing.

The more hardcore players of Pokemon Go will notice i’ve not gone in to things such as how the game incorporates the current weather, Pokemon IV’s, shiny hunting, PVP, community days, raid hours and so on. Pokemon Go does go far more in depth than I’ve covered here, which i’m sure is why many of us have remained interested in the game for so long now. However as this blog posted is aimed at people who might never have played the game before, hopefully its been relevant enough to keep them interested and reading to the end.

Related links:

My colleague Michael has continued this mini blog series with the second part: Staying Safe Playing Pokemon Go During These Unprecedented Times

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