Over the years, Pokémon has taught its audience to respect each other, our environment, and (of course) the Pokémon themselves. Carrying that mentality over to Pokémon Go only makes sense as we’re finally given the opportunity to Catch ‘em All in our own parks and neighborhoods! This is the ultimate guide to playing and mastering the game that simultaneously highlights both digital and physical safety.
Click on the topics below to read more.
The World of Pokemon
Pokémon: fictional creatures that populate the world in a similar way that animals do. They have been brought to life in Augmented Reality through the smartphone app Pokémon Go.
Augmented Reality: a view of a physical environment that is augmented by computer-generated sensory. In Pokémon Go, your smartphone camera captures a live feed of your surroundings and then places an image of Pokémon in the environment.
Pokéballs: spherical capsules used to capture and store wild Pokémon.
Pokédex: a digital device that catalogs various species of Pokémon.
Gyms: a place to battle and train your Pokémon against other trainers’ Pokémon. In Pokémon Go, these are located at real world locations, where anyone can become a Gym Leader. Once you hit level 5, you will need to visit a Gym in order to choose your team. After you choose your team, you will be eligible to battle and train at any gym you come across under the banner of Team Valor, Team Mystic, or Team Instinct. More on Gyms below.
Pokéstops: In Pokémon Go, these are real world locations that provide free items to aid your Pokémon training journey. They refresh every 5 minutes. More on Pokéstops Below.
what is pokémon go?
Pokémon Go is the 2016 hit smartphone app and mobile video game based off of the Pokémon franchise. It uses location tracking and augmented reality (AR) to encourage players to go outside and find Pokémon in their own neighborhoods. The game was developed by Niantic, who structured Pokémon Go closely off of their original AR game, Ingress.
To download and play the app, you will need to have at least 50MB of space on your phone (and more space later on for updates). You also need ample cellular data to play the game outside your home, where there won’t be Wi-Fi.
The game is free-to-play with in-app purchases that can price up to $100.
If your child is playing Pokémon Go, consider placing parental controls through the phone’s settings to deactivate in-app purchases.
Make sure you download the right app: Pokémon GO by Niantic, Inc. Many imitation apps have already popped up. Avoid anything that claims you need to buy the download or pay a subscription fee for an account. These are false. The app is free, and it’s free-to-play with no time limit.
Security issues and weaknesses are constantly being addressed by the developers and the company, so make sure to keep your app updated.
When creating your character, it is not recommended to use your real name. Use a nickname or a screen name instead, so you won’t be identified. The name you use may be displayed to others online.
Pokéballs: These are used to catch any wild Pokémon that you encounter. Each player starts with 50 Pokéballs. You earn 10-20 extra Pokéballs every time you level up. More effective Pokéballs called Great Balls and Ultra Balls are unlocked at levels 12 and 20, respectively.
Potions: These are used to heal your Pokémon after it gets hurt in a battle. After level 5, you will earn 10-20 potions each time you level up. More effective potions called Super Potions and Hyper Potions are unlocked at levels 10 and 15, respectively.
Lure Modules: Lures can be used on Pokéstops to attract more wild Pokémon to the area (and, consequently, often more Pokémon trainers as well). You will earn Lure Modules through levelling up at level 8, 10, and then every 5 levels. When a Lure Module is activated, pink petals will flutter out of the Pokéstop on the map for any nearby trainers to see. The effect lasts for 30 minutes.
Incense: This item will also attract more wild Pokémon to the area. Unlike Lure Modules, though, these can be used anywhere, since they are attached to your player. Others won’t be able to see your Incense on the map. You earn Incense through levelling up at level 5, 7, 10, and then every 5 levels. The effect lasts for 30 minutes.
Lucky Egg: These simply double any experience you earn for 30 minutes! It is a very powerful item that is useful in levelling up. Use them wisely! You will earn them through levelling up at level 9, 10, and then every 5 levels.
Razzberry: These are small treats that you feed wild Pokémon while attempting to catch them. It will make the Pokémon less likely to struggle and break out of your next Pokéball throw. They are unlocked at level 8, after which you will earn 3-15 every level.
Egg Incubators: You start the game with a single egg incubator that has infinite uses. Throughout the game, you will be given Pokémon Eggs at Pokéstops. If you put them in an Incubator, it will hatch after you walk the distance labelled on the egg. You will earn 3-use Incubators through levelling up at level 6, 10, and then every 5 levels.
Pokécoins: This is the in game currency used to purchase items from the shop. You can purchase them with real money in the shop or earn them from Gyms.
When you leave a Pokémon at a Gym, you’ll earn 10 coins and 500 stardust. You can have Pokémon at a maximum of 10 Gyms every day. To collect your reward, go to the Shop menu and tap on the shield icon that appears in the top right hand corner. You can only collect rewards every 21 hours, so leave Pokemon at as many gyms as you can before collecting.
What should I spend my Pokécoins on?
Because Pokéballs and Potions are abundantly awarded to players from Pokéstops for free, it is usually a smarter move to use your Pokécoins towards Lucky Eggs, Lure Modules, and Incense. These will help you gain experience and catch rarer Pokémon.
real world gear
Pokémon Go is an outdoor activity, so you should treat it like any other outdoor activity.
Wear ample sunscreen, even if it’s a cloudy day.
Bring a water bottle so that you can stay hydrated.
Since you’ll be doing a lot of walking, make sure to wear shoes that are suitable for walking longer distances.
Pokémon Go is notorious for being a massive drain on your battery. This can become an issue if your phone’s GPS is your primary way of finding your way back home or contacting your parents/ride/friends. Consider bringing an extra battery charger (or two) so that you won’t have to worry about a dead phone.
If it is particularly sunny outside, consider wearing a hat to block the sun out of your face and eyes.
If you are going out at night, wear bright or reflective clothing so that you are easily visible to vehicles, bicyclists, and other people around you.
Kids going out without parents or adults should carry an emergency contact card with the labelled phone numbers of their parents and other trusted adults. This way, even if their phones die, they can dial the numbers on the card from a friend’s phone or a public phone.
before you go
Tell someone where you are planning to go and how long you will be gone.
Invite your friends to walk and explore with you. The game is more fun with friends, and you will be safer in each other’s company.
If you are a parent, go with your child so that they can freely play on their phones while you watch for their surroundings. If they don’t want their parent supervising them outside, set boundaries on location, time of day, and hours of play with their safety in mind.
Check the weather before you go outside. If it’s too hot, too cold, or about to be stormy, stay inside. It’s unsafe to be outdoors in hazardous weather.
When a Pokémon is within your vicinity, your phone will vibrate and the Pokémon will show up on your screen! All you need to do is tap on the Pokémon and you will get the opportunity to try to capture it in a Pokéball.
Although augmented reality is one of the coolest parts of this game, many players have found it easier to catch Pokémon with AR turned off. You will find a switch on the top right of your screen that lets you toggle AR.
When you encounter a Pokémon, it will have colored circle overlaying its center. The color indicates how likely this Pokémon will struggle against your Pokéball and break out. Greener means an easy catch; redder means it’s a fighter.
Certain throws will earn you some extra experience (though the system can seem somewhat finicky at times):
If you hold the Pokéball and jiggle it around, you’ll notice it will start sparkling as it spins. If you catch a Pokémon with a spinning ball, you’ll get a Curveball bonus of 10 XP.
If your Pokéball lands inside the colored circle when it is at its largest, you’ll get 10 XP for a Nice Throw.
If your Pokéball lands inside the colored circle when it is halfway in its cycle, you’ll get 50 XP for a Great Throw.
If your Pokéball lands inside the colored circle when it is at its smallest, you’ll get 100 XP for an Excellent Throw.
Sometimes, Pokéstops may award you Pokémon Eggs. To see them, you simply open your Pokémon Menu and swipe left. Click on your egg and then select an Incubator to use.
2 km = 1.24 mi
5 km = 3.11 mi
10 km = 6.21 mi
After spinning a Pokéstop for items, you don’t need to tap on each item individually. You can just tap the X at the bottom of the screen, and all of your items will be automatically collected.
Transfer any Pokémon you don’t want to hold onto by opening its profile, opening the menu in the bottom right, and tapping “Transfer.” Once you transfer the Pokémon, you can’t get it back, but the entry will stay in your Pokédex. Professor Willow will give you one candy of whatever species you transferred to him in return.
Once you’ve caught enough Pokémon, you’ll notice that you may have collected enough species-specific candies to evolve one!
You’ll need to catch multiples of the same Pokémon to collect the species-specific candy.
Hatching Pokémon also grants you a generous amount of that species’ candy.
When a Pokémon evolves, they will have a new randomly generated move set.
To get your desired Eeveelution, name your Eevee after the respective Eevee brother before evolving it. This only works once.
Rainer = Vaporeon
Sparky = Jolteon
Pyro = Flareon
The fastest way to level up quickly is to catch many duplicates of common Pokémon with low evolution candy requirements (like Pidgey, Weedle, and Caterpie). Evolving them will grant you 500 XP each time.
If you have lucky eggs, you can save up all of your candy and evolve all of your Pokémon after you use a Lucky Egg. This will double all of your XP earned, netting you massive increases in experience.
Here is a list of ways to earn experience:
Pokémon Caught: 100 XP
New Pokémon: 500 XP
Pokéstop Check-in: 50 XP
Battling at a Gym: 100 XP
Beating a Pokémon in battle at a Gym: 150 XP
Beating a Pokémon while training at a Gym: 50 XP
Hatching 2km Egg: 200 XP
Hatching 5km Egg: 500 XP
Hatching 10km Egg: 1000 XP
Evolving a Pokémon: 500 XP
Once a team claims a gym, Pokémon Trainers of that team will leave their Pokémon there to defend the Gym. If you are on an opposing team, you can then battle those Pokémon, defeating trainers and lowering the prestige of the Gym.
During battle, tap on the opposing Pokémon to use your basic attack. As you attack, a blue bar under your Pokémon’s HP bar will start to fill up. Every bar that is filled up allows you to use your special attack once.
Swipe left and right to dodge. It’s important to dodge your opponent’s special attacks.
Special attacks are powerful but leave your Pokémon open to a succession of attacks while it’s charging. To use your special attack, hold down on the opposing Pokémon and your Pokémon will charge up and attack. You cannot dodge while charging a special attack.
Make sure to punish your opponent by attacking relentlessly while they are charging their special.
Press the button in the bottom right of the screen to swap out Pokémon. Swapping leaves your Pokémon vulnerable for a few seconds, but it may be worth it if you want to bring in a more effective Pokémon Type.
To increase a Gym’s Prestige, train at your team’s Gym by battling other Pokémon defending the Gym.
To decrease a Gym’s Prestige, defeat the Pokémon defending the Gym left there by Trainers on another team.
Once a Gym’s Prestige reaches 0, another team can take it over.
As a Gym increases in Prestige, it can accommodate more Pokémon defenders. The number correlates with the level of the Gym. (i.e. a level 6 Gym can hold 6 Pokémon).
When choosing a Pokémon to leave to defend a Gym, consider adding one that would bring variety to the Gym, making the lineup harder to defeat. If there are already many Fire-type Pokémon at the gym, add some non-Fire-type Pokémon.
Don’t leave your strongest Pokémon because you won’t get them back until they are defeated. This means you won’t have your VIP to help you take down other Gyms!
You can't use revive on yourself
While Pokémon Go is an exciting and novel way to experience the outdoors, it is still important to keep the usual safety considerations in mind.
You don’t have to stare at the screen the entire time you are playing the game. Your phone will vibrate any time there are wild Pokémon around, so you can hold it by your side or even in your pocket without missing any. When it vibrates, you can pause, make sure you’re in a safe and comfortable location, and then pull it out to see what Pokémon you’ve found.
Battery Saver Mode, which can be found in the settings menu of Pokémon Go, will simply display a dark screen with a Pokémon Go logo when your phone is facing downwards (as it would when you’re holding it in your hand by your side, walking leisurely). It will still track your distance and location for egg hatching, and it will still vibrate when it detects a Pokémon nearby. When you hold it back up to look at the screen, the accelerometer will detect the motion and show the active playing screen again.
Do not drive while using your phone. It is extremely dangerous. Distracted driving kills thousands of people every year. Not only are you putting yourself in great danger, you are also threatening the lives of everyone around you.
Using your phone while on a bike, roller skates, skateboard, hoverboard, or unicycle is also very dangerous. It’s so easy to miss a turn, a road sign, another vehicle, or even just a bump in the road, all of which could cause serious injury to yourself and others.
If you must use your bike, skates, etc to help you get from stop to stop (or to hatch eggs), keep your phone in your pocket or bag while you are moving. If you feel it vibrate, find a safe place to stop and dismount before pulling out your phone.
Your distance won’t count towards hatching eggs anyways when you’re in the car unless you’re going very slowly (under 11 mph). In any case, please don’t open Pokémon Go while you are driving a car; it’s not worth it. If you have a passenger, you can ask them to look over your phone. If you don’t, just play later. Your life is more important than catching another Weedle.
When crossing roads, put your phone down and remember to look both ways. Wait for a walk signal at a crosswalk if possible.
Always be looking where you’re going. Be aware of cliffs as well as any other hazards that may cause you to trip or fall. With many distracted or rushed people walking around, you’ll also want to avoid colliding into other people on the street.
Make sure you take time to sit down and rest, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in the sun. Rest, hydrate, and take a break every now and then. Pokéstops are a really great place to do this, since they take five minutes to recharge. And if there’s a Lure Module there, you might even sight some rare Pokémon!
Keep an eye on the weather. If storm clouds start rolling in or if the temperature drops or rises to unsafe levels. Heat stroke and frostbite can cause serious damage to your body.
If you’re playing at night, stay in well-lit and highly trafficked areas.
Be careful when talking to strangers, even if they are other Pokémon trainers. Friendly banter is welcome, but stay on guard for suspicious behavior, especially if the person talking to you is much older than you or if you feel pressured to do something or share information about yourself.
Unfortunately, there have been reports of armed robbery at Lured Pokéstops in out-of-the-way locations. Stay alert and be smart about what situations you’re putting yourself in.
Although having the three teams makes the game competitive, remember that it’s meant to be friendly competition. If you watched Pokémon The Movie 2000, featuring the legendary birds Moltres, Zapados, and Articuno, you’ll remember that the world was in chaos while the birds viciously fought one another. It was only until they were united by Lugia that peace was returned to the world. So don’t trash talk or spread hate towards other teams. Enjoy the game together and make some new friends!
Pokémon appear in the same location for all players. These instances are not unique, so everyone can catch the same Pokémon, even if other players have already faced and caught it.
Share good Pokémon catching spots with friends and other trainers.
If you have spare Lure Modules, add them to a popular Pokéstop so that everyone can enjoy the abundant Pokémon together.
If you see bad sportsmanship, bullying, suspicious activity, or any bad mannered behavior, speak up. Always prioritize your own safety, but if you feel comfortable speaking up when you see players belittling others or ruining the experience for other Trainers, do so. Video games are fun, but the community has a responsibility to keep itself accountable for discouraging toxic and disrespectful behavior.
Don’t cheat. Many players have been using GPS spoofing to artificially change their location. Others have been using modified versions of the application. Niantic Labs has not been kind towards cheaters, issuing bans to any players they catch.
Players have also been caught selling their high-level accounts. Many of these have been scams, so not only is it recommended to stay away from these for reasons of integrity but also for cautions against deception.
Be patient with your phone and GPS. Unfortunately the app isn’t perfect and your GPS may act up sometimes. The game can freeze, crash, or just glitch out. Try restarting the app or your phone. Change certain settings (like turning off AR or Battery Saver Mode). Clear some of your running applications and storage space. Or simply put the game away to play at another time.
The Camera feature in Pokémon Go allows you to take pictures of the Pokémon you encounter in augmented reality in your surroundings. Sometimes, other people will also be in your frame. Don’t take pictures of other people without their consent, even if you are in a public space.
Sometimes, Pokémon and Pokéstops will appear in locations that are public but inappropriate for gaming. For example, many Pokéstops have been reported at local police stations, hospitals, cemeteries and historic museums or sites. You likely do not need to walk inside the actual site in order to activate the Pokéstop; instead, walk near it and activate it from outside. While Pokémon is a fun and exciting game that lets you interact with the environment, it is important to maintain the common courtesy of not interrupting or distracting police officers, healthcare workers, or people in mourning. We can be respectful of our environments while simultaneously enjoying the exploration of it.
Be aware of trespassing private property as well. Do not walk onto someone’s lawn or inside a gated or fenced area unless you have permission from the owner.
As you are walking you will see a circle rippling outwards from your character. Any Pokémon or Pokéstops inside the circle will become visible on your screen. This means that you do not always have to walk directly up to the Pokémon or Pokéstop in order to interact with it. Simply tap the wild Pokémon or activated Pokéstop on your screen.
If you are over 18, be careful about talking to minors and young children without their parent’s consent. Even if you have only good intentions, it’s important to respect young people’s space and safety. Furthermore, others may be suspicious of an adult leading a child away from their parent or to another location.
Follow all trail and park rules if you are playing in a park. Don’t wander off of the path. Not only can this endanger you (tripping, falling, encountering poisonous plants or dangerous wildlife, getting lost, etc.), it can also endanger the plants and animals that live there. Many viruses spread from park to park on the bottoms of visitors’ boots!