This simple line appears on your smart phone screen: "A Pikachu appeared!" The Pikachu appears to be right there in front of you. Pokémon Go is a location-based augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic that finally landed in Korea on January 24, 2017. As expected, Koreans have gone mad for it. Lee Hyebin, SMT reporter, enthusiastically hopped on board the Pokémon Go wave to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a Pokémon trainer.
Anyone Can Be a Pokémon Trainer
The Pokémon franchise was launched as a video game series for Game Boy. Pokémon stands for pocket monster. During the game, users catch monsters with a special tool called a Pokéball. Users head out on adventures in the game with the captured Pokémon to capture more monsters and to engage in battle with other trainers. Pokémon grew and evolved by interacting with their trainers. From this simple idea, the franchise grew in popularity worldwide. Its fame around the world lead to a Pokémon animation series.
Pokémon Go is the latest in the franchise. It is a smart phone that was launched on July 6th, 2016 in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. While the rest of the world was able to play the game from August of 2016, the South Korean government refused to permit the game’s launch in the nation citing military issues. Sokcho was the only Korean city where users could access the game. Interestingly, Sokcho is the closest Korean Peninsula city to Japan. Korean gamers rushed to Sokcho and it brought many people to the area in what was termed a Sokcho Pokémon Go Boom. The South Korean government has since then allowed the game to use its mapping data, so Korea now joins other nations around the world. Anyone with an IOS or Android smart phone can easily download the game from App Store or Google Play.
Start the Adventure
Basically, Pokémon Go has three parts: catching Pokémon, raising Pokémon, and gym battles between gamers. In order to play, first a player needs to collect Pokéballs. To gather some, users must visit Pokéstops and press various icons. Pokéstops and gyms can be found at well-known places and landmarks. Sadly, this SMT reporter's hometown has few Pokéstops or gyms, so she had to journey to the main streets of Seoul.
Her first destination was Sookmyung Women's University. As might be expected, she found a Pokéstopat Peace Gate, also known as Campus I main gate. Other Pokéstops could be found at the Administration Building, the Queen Sunheon Building, and Centennial Hall. Exploring the campus, the SMT reporter was able to capture several Eevees. Eevee is a special Pokémon that can evolve into eight different forms. Her Eevees evolved into Flareon(a fire-type), Vaporeon(a water-type), and Jolteon(an electric-type). On the animated series, Eevee brothers are named Pyro, Rainer, and Sparky. They each have Flareon, Vaporeon, and Jolteon as a partner. A game user renames one of their captured Eevee's names to be the same as an Eevee brother on the TV cartoon will become the TV animated character. This SMT reporter renamed her Eevee after Rainer, and it successfully evolved into Vaporeon.
Her second destination on the hunt for Pokémon was Sinchon. Sinchon is known to have lots of Pokéstops so it is one of the most popular places for users to play Pokémon Go. In addition, it is easy to find Pokéstops using Lure Module in Sinchon. Lure Module is an item increases the number of Pokémon in a user’s vicinity. Users acquire the item by leveling up or buy simply buying it a game shop. Thanks to the use of several lure modules around Sinchon station, the SMT reporter successfully captured the rare Pokémon, Ponyta and Rhyhorn. Lastly, SMT reporter entered a gym battle. When a user first arrives at any gym, the user is asked to choose from among their Pokémon a group that will battle. Users should select 3 different teams: Valor, Mystic, and Instinct. Each team is comprised of different strengths: courage, mystery, and instincts. After having selected a battling group, users enter into the gym to engage in virtual battles with other users. This SMT reporter entered a gym near Seoul Station with her Mystic team of Pokémon. She fought gallantly, but as her playing level was much lower than the gym leader, the battle ended in defeat. Nevertheless, she had a great time and enjoyed the battle.
The Power of Good Content
In the 21st century, it is important to develop content that will attract a globally wide range of individuals. Making a good content has same meaning with developing a new field. Pokémon that once started as a simple handheld game for Game Boy, soon attracted people from all nations and spread across platforms to TV, movies, comic books, plush toys and figurines, and so on. Pokémon Go is adding to the success of franchise. During her short adventure, SMT reporter realized the power of creative content. SMT reporter, however, would like to see more content from Korea that would spread across all nations. There is no time for complacency. It is time for the government to support creative content development to ensure the future of Korea. A little effort now will surely pay off big in the future of Korea.