On the Hunt
Pokémon Go leads players to culture
When I started playing Pokémon Go, I had a really difficult time remembering the phrase “Pokéstops.” Why? Because I am familiar with a really excellent augmented reality app game, Ingress, created by Niantic, formerly a small branch of Google and also one of the companies that has helped develop the newest international app sensation, Pokémon Go. Many of the standard parts of Ingress were carried over to Pokémon Go—namely the portals (aka Pokéstops and Gyms) and the maps which together provide an incredible amount of detail that the game is built on.
Niantic didn’t develop the Pokéstops on their own, though. For the last few years, the players of Ingress have chosen the location of portals which were then translated to Pokéstops and Gyms for Pokémon Go through the maps provided by Google Maps. The basic rules for choosing a portal are that the portal should be a landmark, monument or a place that’s important to the public and where the public is welcome; you can’t just create a portal where you live or, say, where someone you’re wanting to checkup on lives (that’s called stalking, people). But guess what: In Albuquerque we have a shitload of public art. Public art is created to reflect the community and area it’s in, so it’s an obvious choice for portals since we Burqueños have plenty to say about our city.
Location matters for the Pokémon that spawn there. For example, you’re going to get more water-type Pokémon while visiting public art sites like Clyde and Carrie Tingley at Tingley Beach or more ground-type Pokémon around the Yei Be Chei Central in Downtown. Aside from that, there are certain places in the city that become nests randomly (Los Altos and Alvarado Park produced Pikachu, Bachechi Open Space produced Oddish, North Domingo Baca Park produced MagiKarp, etc. Sidenote: If anyone has any more information on current nests, share with your fellow trainers via twitter #abqpokenest). Since Albuquerque is also a wonderfully diverse area in many ways, we have access to plenty of different types of Pokémon like bug, grass, dark, ground, electric, normal, fairy, poison, fighting, psychic, fire, flying, rock, ghost and water—I’ve seen all these types just sitting at my desk in the center of Downtown.
Though one can stay still and enjoy collecting their super-special creatures (like people do at UNM or I do at work), the point of the game is to get up and move and to see the important parts of your area or city, meet other people and make friends. I don’t need to explain the importance of public art here or how you can implement or change it, but you have the opportunity to get out and actually see what your neighborhood has to offer culturally and artistically while having fun and being the best trainer that could catch them all.
Since Pokémon has become far more popular than Ingress, I do play it more. It’s not just because it’s a better game (which it is), but it’s a way to relate and meet new people. The first time I ventured out with a friend to train at a gym Downtown (Team Valor, baby!), we met a really nice young man named Lee who stole that gym right as we got there (rude). After I yelled his username into the sky, he came over and gave us noobs a few super helpful tips on battling and useful ways to play the game. That same friend and I also played Ingress around the same time and were much less motivated to play because we couldn’t talk about it with anyone but each other, which is fine but we had more important things to talk about like “The Real World.” I digress … Get out to see and appreciate our beautiful, expansive and culturally diverse city. And take some Snapchats while you’re at it.