Monday, June 17Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

‘Pokémon Go’ through the eyes of an ignoramus

Orbital journalist Joanne Archer tries out the Pokémon Go app that has been taking the world by storm.

Growing up, I did not want to conform to gender stereotypes. I played with boys and girls toys, had a football kit and wore tutus. Amongst the Beyblades, Bionicles and Action Men, I came into the possession of a deck of Pokémon cards. The game was the latest trade-able trend on the Year 3 playground and particularly sought after by my crush of the moment. Naturally, I had to get in on the action. At the age of eight the only thing I was interested in catching was the school’s heart-breaker, not a Jigglypuff. 11 years later and I have a tin of mismatched Pokémon cards, some of which are certainly fakes, and little knowledge of what Pokémon actually is. Sure, I’ve heard the theme tune and seen plenty of students dressed up as Ash on the SU dancefloor, but that’s about the extent of it.

This in mind, I was in no rush to download the game and waited for its official launch date in the UK. If I’m going to “catch ‘em all”, I’m going to do it properly. Opening the app, I was greeted by a character named Professor Willow. Just like any anime character, he has the classic sweeping fringe that is up there with Disney Princess hair goals. Since the media wants to critique Theresa May for her fashion sense, I feel it is only fair to give Professor Willow the same trials. His neon green trainers are certainly ‘WHAT ARE THOSE’ worthy and the doctor’s coat paired with adventurer gear and sleeping roll mat is certainly a crime against fashion. For the sake of research I will persevere.

The next challenge was building my avatar and creating a unique nickname. The choices of clothing were, once again, very disappointing with choices of blue, pink, yellow and black. I opted for blue, as this ensemble was the only one that seemed to properly match. You have to look 90s-style fierce when catching Pokémon. If only my nickname had the potential to be as fierce as my outfit. I tried at least ten different names before ‘Joelizarcher’ was finally accepted. I have never questioned my parents naming decisions so much in my life. Now we can finally get to the game play.

The first Pokémon I caught was a Bulbasaur. I have no idea if this is a good or a bad thing, but at that point I was just excited that I had caught a virtual creature from the comfort of my own bed. This was the moment I realised the flaw in the game. I have to leave my bed. The clue was probably in the name Pokémon “GO”. For me, “Pokémon Go” instantly became “Pokémon Go Back to Sleep”. In order to progress further I would have to enter society and visit the local Pokéstops. In my pyjamas and bare face, the chances of me walking to my local park or school library were 0. From this I have discovered that you can still catch Pokémon in your own home if you check back every hour or so, but you can’t expect to find anything more than a Rattata. Facebook memes have informed me that this is not an exciting thing.

From the growing hype, I can certainly see why this game would prove so popular. I have only reached level four in my 12 hours of game play, but I’m already feeling a strange attraction to the outside world that I have never felt before. With several cautions and warnings being issued from police forces and the perilous T&C’s that essentially say “if you die it’s not our fault”, I am certainly going to take caution if I ever do take my relationship with Pokémon to the next level. At least this time it’s not as deep as playground love.