How Pokemon Go got us walking and reintroduced us to streets

Ragene Andrea L. Palma, Jose Bernardo Gochoco III
How Pokemon Go got us walking and reintroduced us to streets


Pokemon Go has turned its players into one big community, one that transcends the fascination of graphics on a mobile screen

Pokemon Go has taken the world by storm, and it’s not just because it’s another popular game. In fact, it’s the popular game that trumps many others because of how it turned its players into one big community, one that transcends the fascination of graphics on a mobile screen.

Urban awareness

Those who have begun their Pokemon training will know that feeling of being reintroduced to landmarks that were invisible to them in their most familiar comfort zones, and that includes residences, schools, and work places.

This is because the PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms are situated on statues, buildings, and tricycle stops that we wouldn’t give much thought about in everyday life. But now that we have to visit them to get Poke Balls, we pay specific attention to where they are and associate meaning with the place, introducing people to a whole new urban experience.

People have also become more spatially aware, and have become more map literate, because they are forced to gain a good sense of direction in order to play the game. Players have also noticed how Pokemon appear in public areas with more foot traffic than in secluded and gated subdivisions and vast greeneries, providing the distinction of the urban-rural difference. (READ: The geography of Pokémon Go and how it can help improve cities)

PokeStops and Gyms are skewed towards high-density places, making players in scarce spots flock to these areas for battles and hunting sessions. This is exactly the underlying concept of urbanization. It also gives us the literal and metaphorical sense of “greener pastures,” which is the basis of migration.

That urban-rural distinction is very apparent in the game

Pokemon hunting makes us walk

Another impact that Pokemon Go created is that it made us go out and walk, and reoriented us to the concept of streets. This brings a realization to the now-walkers and now-joggers who have been living in a car’s bubble and haven’t experienced their cities through the eyes of a pedestrian.

In a car-oriented Metro Manila, this makes a difference. Safety hazards and costumed players aside, making players walk creates more awareness on how walkers and bikers alleviate our traffic problem and how choosing these transport methods for accessible places lessens air pollution from automobile emissions.

Well, yes, there’s that extremely attractive Pokemon Go Manila Roadtrip advertised on Facebook that brings you to the hotspots within the metropolitan, but even if that’s another car added to our streets, the players will eventually have to walk too.

No cheats, because the application uses the phone pedometer. In other words, incubated Pokemon Eggs wouldn’t hatch at the time you want them if you exceed 15 kilometers per hour.

It gave us friends in strangers

Introverts rejoice! Gone are the days when gamers were confined to playing games that require hours on end in front of computers and consoles inside houses.

Technological innovations such as augmented reality, Global Positioning System (GPS) enabled smart phones, and internet data services have enabled gamers to experience the game out in the real world.

Games encourage players to form communities because of the common interests and jargon. But Pokemon Go moved beyond virtual groups and created actual, true to life communities, giving essence to conversations and camaraderie. (READ: Pokémon Go, parang pag-ibig lang)

If you’ve seen players walking in groups, they wouldn’t hesitate to talk to people they do not know, and they would gladly help other players find Pokemon. “Lure parties” and Pokemon hunting dates or “PokeWalks” have become events too, where big companies cash out, and friends get together because of the common interest.

The game actually encouraged people to talk and strategize together, elevating itself from being just an entertainment platform to a social tool that’s more interactive and face-to-face than, well, Facebook.

Words of caution to fellow pedestrian players

Although the game aims to immerse its players in an augmented virtual world, players should still be aware of their surroundings, follow the law, and heed the warnings found in the game:

  • Do not tresspass while playing Pokemon Go
  • Do not play Pokemon Go while driving
  • Do not enter dangerous areas while playing Pokemon Go
  • Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings

These are simple rules to live by, and a good reminder to our fellow players. It’s a good reminder to follow these rules, so everyone wins, and we can all enjoy catching our favorite Pokemon. –

Ragene Andrea Palma and Jose Bernardo Gochoco III are both urban planners and Pokemon Go players who are intrigued on how the game has bridged gaming, millennials, and urban realities.

Get a new urban experience while catching Pokemon on your smartphones. We may have overlooked landmarks and sculptures while commuting to work and all, but now you will notice it when refilling up supplies at these Pokestops.

Not on Pokemon Go? Click here to get a smartphone and rediscover your city in a new interactive light.

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