What I learned from playing Pokémon Go for 6 months

I am what you might call a member of the Pokémon generation. I played Pokémon Red on Gameboy Color, I collected the cards, and I definitely watched the television shows and spent what little money I had on checking out the movies. So when plans for Pokémon Go were released by Niantic, I was all in to play. I spent hours hunting for Pokémon, walking miles along the way, and exploring my neighborhood in a way I never had before. I also happened to learn a few things in the process.

It was awesome

I actually got started a few days late, since Pokémon Go premiered while I was camping on top of a mountain that had no internet access. As soon as I got home, I took a quick walk with my dog around the block and got way too excited. In 15 minutes I'd caught a Psyduck, an Eevee, and a handful of Pidgeys and Rattatas.

It's such a small, silly, little thing, to take a walk and see pocket monsters pop up on your phone screen. I may have actually squealed out loud the first time that my favorite Pokemon — Vulpix — popped up for me to capture. This wasn't just true for existing Pokémon fans like me. My mother was playing, her mother-in-law was playing, and everyone was having an absolutely amazing time. The sheer amount of people who were playing turned this game into an amazing experience that brought camaraderie to thousands of people worldwide. I know i wasn't the only one who felt this way either.

I found so much

One of the coolest parts for me was finding so many neat places around my neighborhood and my city. PokéStops were set up at a variety of places from schools and post offices to art installations. I live just south of Baltimore, and while it gets a bad rap for a lot of things, there are some amazing art installations in the city.

I spent a full day wandering around with my phone, a portable battery, and tons of places to explore. From beautiful murals that stole my breath away to a tiny little café tucked into a corner. While Pokémon Go definitely got me out of the house and exploring my surroundings for the first time, it did more than just that. It got me looking up from my phone to take in everything around me happily. I'd never noticed just how much of the world I was missing and more to the point, how much was tucked into my little suburban neighborhood.

It was totally worth it

While there were definitely some issues that I found with Pokémon Go — namely the relative dearth of interesting catches near to home — overall it was an absolutely amazing experience. I walked more than I have since I got hooked on Run, Zombies, and I got so many ridiculous memories from it. I met neighbors while playing at a local playground, and going to venues with multiple PokéStops meant I ran into literally dozens of other Pokémon Go players.

When the weather turned cold and the teams became more entrenched in the territories they controlled, I slowly stopped playing so much. There's every chance that when the weather warms back up I'll boot the app back up and enjoy it anew, but I doubt the massive outpouring of players will ever return. Even if the craze only lasted a few short months, I had more fun with an app than I have ever had before, and it was totally worth every moment of a dying battery or my feet hurting after a 4-mile hike.

Are you still playing?

Have you been playing Pokémon Go through the winter? Has the novelty worn off? Will you play again when things warm up? Let us know in the comments below!

Jen Karner

Jen is a staff writer who spends her time researching the products you didn't know you needed. She's also a fantasy novelist and has a serious Civ VI addiction. You can follow her on Twitter.

  • I started playing about 4 months after launch. While this game is not for everyone, (what game is?) I agree that it is fun to find and catch Pokemon. My 5 year old enjoys playing with his Pokemon cards and can tell me all the evolutions of the ones I find in the game. When I travel for work, I always make sure to run the game at least once to see what will pop up.
  • > One of the coolest parts for me was finding so many neat places around my neighborhood and my city. Thank the Ingress players for that! Portals were contributed by players and accepted at places of interest (there were achievements for contributing accepted portals). Then many of those locations were turned in to Pokemon Go locations. Geocaching has also been great for me to find interesting places nearby.
  • Yeah me and my son play it, not every day but regular. It gets us out and about. Great game.
  • This game had so much potential, but Niantic did a horrible job building on the idea. Once I caught 141 out of the 142 Pokemon available (I was only missing Muk) at the end of August when I accomplished the feat, there really was nothing in the game with any semblance of replay value that could keep me playing. Battles are crap, 2nd gen Pokemon aren't out yet, and they've added nothing new. I haven't touched Pokemon Go since then.
  • There are five new pokemon to get. But they're only from egg hatches, so that still may not be enough to get back into the game.
  • Hahaha yeah. I hate eggs with a passion in this game, so definitely not enough to get me playing again. In 3+ months of constant play, the game only gave me 2 freakin' 10km eggs. Two! What kind of rotten luck is that?
  • I've been playing it since the week after release. I was pretty obsessed for a while until I got my only Hitmonlee to complete my pokedex (North American). That was early November. I still try to play every day for at least enough time to catch one pokemon and one pokestop to get the streak bonuses. I'm just about to level 29. I doubt I'll ever get obsessed with it again like I did but maybe I will once we get generation two. Sure has been fun nonetheless!
  • I still play daily, for longer than I probably should. The streak bonuses are nice. I have stopped spending real money on in-game currency though. I don't mind spending money on a game that has value. The last few months have not had much value...
  • Been playing since the beginning. only at level 24. 96 in my pokedex with 2 level 2 hatched. I pretty much hit a pokestop daily and catch something. It is rare that I see something I have not caught. Not using any bots or cheat sites. I still enjoy playing the game with my kids.
  • I still play a bit, mostly just for daily bonuses and to walk my Pokémon for candy and hatches. I've got a Pokémon go plus though, to be honest i don't think I'd be playing in the -2° weather we've had if I had to use my phone... It's fun, but it's a shame that so much of what Pokémon is isn't there and probably never will be... Pokémon sun and moon are much better games! Although from what I heard on the podcast an ice type Vulpix may make the author of this articles brain explode.
  • I still open the app at least once a day to collect my coins from my one pokemon that has managed to hang onto a fairly secluded gym for a few months now. Then since I already have it open I'll go ahead and catch what ever happens to pop up to keep my daily bonuses going. Then once a week or so I try to take a walk around the botanical gardens or someother spot with a bunch of stops to reload on items. I have definitely slowed down a lot but I'll probably start getting back into it more again once the weather gets better.
  • More importantly, what happened to the podcast?
  • Not enough hours in the day, and conflicting schedules :(
  • :(
  • Yep still playing as the weather changes daily. Only level 25, but love playing it with my family.
  • I just ported to Android from Windows Mobile... Hell yeah I'm playing Pokemon Go.
  • , and it was totally worth every moment of a dying battery or my feet hurting after a 4-mile hike. 4 mile hike.... Oh please
  • I was thinking the same thing lol
  • "Have you been playing Pokémon Go through the winter?"
    Certainly not! "Has the novelty worn off?"
    Yes. " Will you play again when things warm up?"
    Never played it to begin with. "Let us know in the comments below!"
    This game is lame in my opinion.
  • You should have started with the fact that you never played the game so I could ignore the rest of your lame comment.
  • PoGo certainly played a big part in my life for the past couple of months. Parks and places that are usually empty were full of people up till the wee hours, I've discovered and driven to far away places that I've never even heard off, it kept me outside for hours camping and walking. The best part is the new people that I've met from all ages, social groups, and gym raids with teammates.
  • Still playing, although not as much. Waiting for GEN 2.
  • What happened to "I wasted 6 months of my life"?