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Mama's Gotta Cach 'Em All

Searching for Pokémon in Idaho Falls

Published in the June 2022 Issue Published online: Jul 09, 2022 Discover Idaho Falls, East Idaho Outdoors, Family Fun Guide, Outdoors Gigi Ropp, East Idaho Moms
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POKÉMON GO was all the rage in 2016. As per usual, I am way behind the trend and, although I have been playing since the game was released (weird flex, I know) I regularly hear from other parents who have never heard of it or are intimidated because they don’t know the first thing about Pikachu and his buddies.

Hear me out—I am not a professional. I am not a gamer, nor did I play Pokémon growing up. Hand me a stack of Pokémon cards and I’ll honestly just look at the cute characters. What I am is a mom of five young kids who loves connecting with them and trying to keep up with their likes and dislikes.

When the game first came out, it seemed like a fun and novel idea. Walking around while catching adorable characters and socializing with friends seemed like a great hobby. Imagine my kids’ surprise when they wanted to play it years later and mom already had an account and (halfway) knew how to play! Years later, the kids and I still spend time trading and showing off our cool finds as well as walking (and sometimes driving) around town to catch ‘em all. Idaho Falls is a great location for Pokémon GO! Our River Walk is a safe and well-lit area crawling with Pokémon and covered in Pokéstops (places where you pick up items needed for gameplay), as well as Gyms (where you battle other players’ Pokémon to control the Gym). We often walk around the river for hours catching, spinning and battling! There are also Pokéstops, Gyms, and Pokémon in many other areas of Idaho Falls and the world, so the possibilities are pretty endless.

Game-play is pretty simple:
1. Download the game and pick a character, username and starter for Pokémon. For the sake of safety, ensure no personal information is shared in the username as it is public!
2. You’ll also be given a choice of teams. There are three teams in Pokémon GO and players from the same team can battle together and earn bonuses. I encourage families to pick a team they will all be on together, but it can be fun to have one or two members on an opposing team. Keep in mind that it is very difficult to change teams beyond the first choice.
3. Once setup is complete, you’ll be ready to catch any Pokémon that show up on the screen in order to level them up, evolve them into stronger iterations and use them to battle others. I honestly knew very little about the characters at the beginning and have learned their names and powers along the way. Don’t stress over this as even if you learn the original 151 Pokémon, new ones are added regularly.
4. Different players choose different ways to enjoy the game. Some love catching all the different Pokémon for their collection while others prefer to level theirs up for battle either in a Gym or within the battle portion of the game. I personally really enjoy the in-game missions that keep me excited to earn rewards. Other players simply like that the game can track their steps and rewards them for more kilometers walked. You can choose what you love and can generally skip what you don’t.

One of my biggest concerns when it comes to online gaming is safety. I worry that my kids will engage with strangers and potentially be in danger. Pokémon GO is not a concern for me. While each player has the capability to add other players, it is done solely through a number assigned by the game and no names or identifying information are shared. My kids all have many friends with whom they exchange “gifts,” and never have conversation or any type of interaction with strangers.

The only downside I discovered while introducing my family to my now-favorite game was that each kid had to have an eligible device with their own login to play. For me, that meant looking for cheap but updated phones that could connect to my mobile hotspot. I was able to find some on Facebook Marketplace and through family members. The system requirements change, so be sure to check the Pokémon GO requirements online before you pick a device. The game uses a ton of battery life as the graphics are super clear and the location settings have to be enabled, so be sure all devices are fully charged before you head out on your adventure.

If someone had told me as a pre-teen that I would grow up to love playing that silly Pokémon game the elementary schoolers were playing, I would have rolled my eyes and said, “As if!” But here I am playing daily and proud to say I’ve gotta catch ‘em all! Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you around a Gym sometime soon.

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