Pokemon Go bonus: some valuable life lessons

Amateur trainer says the skills that players need to maximise the game’s fun can be used to be successful in the real world

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 10:12pm

Since the release of Pokemon Go in Hong Kong last week, hordes of players have hit the streets to catch virtual “pocket monsters”.

But critics have raised concerns about the criminally minded abusing the game and its players getting into danger. In Kowloon, two men were attacked by a knife-wielding gang after they collided with them while immersed in the game.

In Tai Po, a teenage player fell into a river trying to save his phone after it slipped from his hand.

Harsh reality: armed robbers have been using Pokemon Go to target players, police say

Critics say the game is “silly”, “pointless” and “a waste of time”. Post columnist Yonden Lhatoo highlighted the “stupidity” and “ridiculousness” of its players.

But Pokemon Go isn’t all bad – as I found after five days of testing the game. In fact, I’ve gained some insight from those long hours spent strolling around my neighbourhood in the dead of the night collecting Pokemon and mosquito bites. Here are five life lessons I learned.

Get your Pokemon out of our schools, say Hong Kong teachers

1. Patience pays

At the start of the game, new players are prompted to catch their first Pokemon and given three to pick from – a Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. They’re attractive options, but nowhere as good as the coveted Pikachu. You must be willing to hold out for what you really want, walking away from all other tempting offers until the Pikachu appears – or you’ll spend much more time tracking down this elusive Pokemon later in the game.

Pokemon Go: where to catch ‘em all in Hong Kong

It’s the same in life. You don’t always have to settle for the first job offer or woman or man or good shopping deal; something better may turn up soon and your patience will be rewarded.

2. Preparation is key

Good things come to those who are prepared, and Pokemon Go demonstrates that. I wish I had read up on the Pikachu tip earlier – the creature is still missing from my Pokedex. For anything of import, it’s vital to do your research – you can’t just wait idly for Pokemon to appear or walk around blindly hoping to catch the rare ones. Google for information, tap Reddit or Facebook for updates and check the Poke Radar for real-time sightings.

My battery gave out as I was trying to catch a stubborn Bulbasaur and I didn’t have back-up power.

3. Save for a rainy day

Being prepared also means keeping stock of your Pokeballs and Razzberries – you don’t want to be out of ammunition when you finally meet a mythical Snorlax or Lapras. I learnt the hard way, wasting almost 200 Pokeballs futilely trying to net a Vileplume only to have a series of other sought-after critters come along after I had run out of balls.

Health chief and police warn Pokemon-playing hordes to behave

In the game, as bag space is limited, saving ammunition often requires giving up less useful items such as revives and potions if you don’t battle much at the gym. In life, ensuring you can weather an unexpected emergency or afford a big purchase such as a home or a car may mean sacrificing costly vacations or dining out less.

4. There are many roads to success – but it’s always hard work

Even if you’ve exhausted your entire Poke-fortune trying – and failing – to catch a coveted creature, not all is lost. There are other ways to own one: hatch a Pokemon from an egg or evolve it from its lower form. But you’ll have to work for it.

Hatching an egg involves walking 2km, 5km or 10km – the farther the distance, the more unique your Pokemon. Evolving one requires catching many of its lower-form creatures to earn candy for the evolution process. For example, evolving a common Magikarp into the rare Gyarados requires 400 candies. The rarer the Pokemon you want, the more candies needed, and hence more catching you have to do.

Three ways playing Pokemon Go boosts your health and well-being

Nick Johnson, the first player to catch all 142 unique Pokemon available in the United States, walked 13km every day after work, hatching eggs and catching creatures. This was on top of all the research he did to formulate the most-effective strategies to earn his Pokemaster status. Nobody said it was easy!

5. Self-control is everything

Of all the virtues the gameplay fosters, nothing beats how powerful a tool Pokemon Go is for training discipline. The most ferocious fight in the gym is a breeze compared with my daily battle against the obsessive urge to catch a few stray Pokemon or spin for more Pokeballs in the office, which is in the middle of three Pokestops. Every night is a mammoth struggle to put the phone away so I can finally get some sleep.

With all this practice in self-restraint – on top of exercising patience, preparedness, good saving habits and hard work – surely any serious-minded player will find himself inching closer to becoming “the very best, like no one ever was” – not just in the game but in life as well.