One Nigerian Girl’s Adventure With Pokémon Go

I don’t like to “carry last.”* I may not follow whatever trend is sweeping the world but I like to be informed about it to a reasonable extent. What is a better ice-breaker at an informal gathering than the latest trend? It might be slightly out-of-place to begin to discuss how your husband only likes to eat pounded yam or how you’ve been hustling to date one babe like that.

So yes, I like to be in the know because it helps with harmless conversation. If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go, my dear brother/sister, let CNN help you with a beginner’s guide, while I give you the full gist from my experience.

You can imagine how much my curiosity was piqued when all I saw on the news and on the internet was Pokémon Go. Being the true Yoruba girl that I am, I was like “Ewo tun leleyi o?”* However, instead of being content with reading about it on the internet, I thought it would be pretty awesome to have a Pokémon Go adventure in Lagos and share it with you. I offered myself as a sacrifice, so you don’t have to do the same (so dramatic).

Before I become your informal guide, I need to issue a few disclaimers. First, I never played Pokémon back in the day, so if I make any sacrilegious statements, don’t be mad. Second, I haven’t advanced a lot in the game, I’m still on level 4, so I haven’t unlocked certain features. Third, you need to be careful when playing Pokémon Go. It’s very addictive and you can get so sucked into the game that you lose touch with your surroundings. In case you don’t believe me, see this woman who got stuck up a tree in a cemetery . This post is going to be picture heavy because I’m showing you pretty awesome stuff.

So let’s start from the beginning, and the beginning is bad news. This game is not yet available in Nigeria, so I had to get creative. I use an iPhone and I asked a friend who uses an android to check the Google Play store, but the app is not yet available in Nigeria on both platforms. You may see different variants of the app, but those are not what you are looking. You are looking for an app with the icon on the extreme right of the picture below. Now you need to be creative if you want to get the app. Google is really your friend, so I advise you to go on a quest for answers and ask your “friend” how to download Pokémon Go on your phone despite the fact that the app isn’t’ yet available in your country. It might take a while but you will get a solution.IMG_3805

After the hustle of finally getting the app on my phone, I had to log in with my email address (sigh, data privacy issues) and then I was given an avatar to customise.

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This is the original avatar
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I changed her skin tone to dark because melanin rocks
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Changed her hair to blue and made some changes to her trousers, cap and backpack
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That’s what she looks like, walking down Lekki-Ikoyi bridge as if she is the owner. Boss lady!
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I also picked a username. You should follow @maytermor4sis on Instagram and Twitter!

Immediately I registered, I saw three Pokémon (apparently, the plural of Pokémon is Pokémon) around me, and had to tap on one, and flick/ throw a ball to catch it. To be honest, I’m still learning how to throw this ball well, but I try sometimes. When I say I “saw three Pokémon around me” what I mean is that three Pokémon appeared on my phone screen, and through the augmented reality feature which uses your phone camera, a Pokémon will appear on your screen against the live background that your phone camera is displaying. I didn’t get quite a clear picture but this is Pinsir (who is actually the scariest Pokémon I’ve encountered) right in front of my computer, after work hours of course.

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This is my phone screen, but the augmented reality feature makes it appear like the Pokémon is right in front of me
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When you catch a Pokémon for the first time, the Pokémon is then registered in a Pokedex, which is basically an index of all available Pokémon
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When I first saw Caterpie
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After catching a Pokémon, you get details about it. I’m still trying to figure out how evolving a Pokémon works and the significance of all the other stuff

I think one of the things I have enjoyed about the game is that it makes you want to explore your environment and possibly also makes you aware of places. So there are places called Pokestops, where you can get freebies, like extra Pokeballs and stuff. These places are mostly landmarks. I couldn’t stop at the Church of Assumption at Falomo because I was on Falomo bridge, I couldn’t stop at the Civic Centre because I was on the other side of the road, but I stopped at the Catholic Church of Divine Mercy in Lekki, where I got four Pokeballs I think. There is such a potential for adventure because you are discovering places around you. Muri Okunola Park is also a Pokestop.

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So far, I have caught forty Pokémon or thereabout. I caught three on Falomo bridge. While playing the game, there’s a feature to see Pokémon that are nearby. When you see this, the idea is for you to walk around, and they will appear, and you continue to build your Pokedex. You also sometimes see leaves rustling. Apparently, this doesn’t mean there is a Pokémon waiting there, what it means is that there’s a good chance one is around. The game may not sound like much of a challenge, but if you have a strong will to conclude tasks or if you are a collector, this game could be a problem for you, as you will walk/drive far and wide to complete your Pokedex.

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Now I’m aware that there are Pokémon Gyms, where you play battles with other Pokémon Go players, but I need to level up before I can access the Pokémon Gyms. My research shows that this is where the game gets really interesting. You can battle for ownership of Pokémon Gyms, train your Pokémon and so on, but I’m yet to get into the groove of that.

Now that I have given you a very brief idea of what the game is, it’s time for some Naija style analysis.

I laughed the other day when I saw rustling leaves in the direction of third mainland bridge at 5:30P.M when traffic to the mainland was at its peak. That was the complete opposite direction from where I was going. So “No thank you, Nintendo, I will not be entering traffic to catch Pikachu.” The temptation to go off your route to look for Pokémon is strong, but when you remember 145 Naira per litre of petrol, it is easy to resist the temptation. Pokémon is not yet paying my salary.

As a Nigerian babe and a potential Nigerian mum, my future Nigerian mum instinct kicked in and  I’m like “What’s with these little monsters running around.” Maybe when I become a Nigerian mum, I will graduate to thinking about the spiritual implication of Pokémon, but for now, I’m good. One thing I know is that the Nigerian mums that don’t allow their children read Harry Potter books will definitely not allow them to play Pokémon Go. “Pokémon Go kor, Pokémon Come ni.”

There is something called “lures” in Pokémon Go, basically, you lure Pokémon to a particular location when you activate it. The good thing is that when one player activates a lure, all other players around there can catch the Pokémon that respond. Now imagine it’s 10 PM and a lure is activated in a very dark corner of a very dark street in a very dingy neighbourhood that you are driving past, my dear brother/sister, please don’t stop! Robbers may use these lures to actually lure you into a sticky situation, and you may end up being trapped, instead of the Pokémon. Basically, the hunter becomes the hunted. So stay safe.

Also, you should be safe when driving. It is very tempting to play Pokémon Go when you are driving, but I don’t need to explain how risky that can be, or do I? For instance, someone was playing Pokémon Go and crashed into a Police Car. He really is on his own. If you are in an Uber, or you are being driven, I guess it’s okay to play the game. By the way, businesses are springing up on the cusp of Pokémon Go. Uber we await a revelation from you.

There is also a big problem with quality of data, depletion of data and murder of phone batteries. The game uses your GPS to determine your location. Unfortunately, there were a few times when my data quality was not good, and GPS signal could not be found. No internet, no Pokémon. Also you will be using up a lot of data, so be prepared, and don’t forget to carry your power bank with you, because your battery will run down pretty fast, especially if you use the augmented reality feature.

Before I forget, I was just thinking that these games are funny sha. You see, except I am a professional gamer, I don’t understand why I will use my real life money to buy currency in a game. I laugh in Spanish. I mean, it’s understandable once in a while, but don’t fall into the habit of spending money in a world that doesn’t really exist, and trust me, there are many ways to spend money.

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For example, you can buy incense, which will attract Pokémon to you
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Look at her smelling all nice

On the bright side, I’m actually quite excited about the game because it is a great incentive to walk around. You can take an evening walk with your significant other, your dog, or your children in order to catch Pokémon. The first person to complete his Pokedex lost about 10 pounds in two weeks just from walking. I think I’m definitely going to do this. If I’m on a run and I decide to walk, I’ll search for Pokémon. I won’t feel as tired and the game may lead me farther than I intend.

There is also such a huge tendency for “hook-ups” with the game. You can meet people with like interests at Pokestops or at Pokémon Gyms, and in this Lagos ehn, I’m sure once Pokémon Go becomes available in Nigeria, there will be Pokémon Go themed exercise sessions, games nights, adventure sessions and so on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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This is an aquatic Pokémon. I think the cutest I’ve caught thus far

So there you have it! Please share your Pokémon Go stories, or lack of it, especially if you are in Nigeria. How have you interacted with the game? Do you think it’s overhyped? If you have more Pokémon Go experience, please teach us in the comment section, so that we won’t carry last. And as always, please share!

“Carry last”- To be out of tune with modern trends

“Ewo tun leleyi o?”- What is all this about?

“Pokémon Go kor, Pokémon Come ni.” – A Nigerian mum’s attempt at sarcasm

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