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Add Pokéstops, Gyms and Pokémon in less populated places! (Pokémon Go)

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tl;dr*: Some people have no Pokéstops, Gyms, or Pokémon to catch anywhere near them in Pokémon Go. This sucks. Help fix it.

What's worse than server issues with Pokémon Go? Logging in for the first time and seeing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Yes, while some of us have been catching every last Pidgey/Rattata/[insert basic Pokémon here] we can find, frantically swiping Pokéstops for items, running all over town racking up steps, and instigating hostile (but friendly) takeovers of Gyms, fellow would-be Master Trainers have been completely left out.

How can this be? Well, it's complicated. Niantic, Inc. (the developers of Pokémon Go) previously created a game called Ingress. In Ingress, players try to take over "portals" (think Pokéstops and Gyms) to connect them together as part of a network. Once upon a time, users could submit requests to Niantic for places/structures/objects of "cultural significance" to be added as new portals to improve gameplay in their area. However, the number of players grew to the point where the number of requests became too great and the ability to get new portals was disabled.

THIS IS IMPORTANT because the location data for Pokéstops is entirely sourced from Ingress. With a few exceptions, every portal in Ingress became a Pokéstop or Gym in Pokémon Go. This idea, while ingenious, impacts the functionality of Pokémon Go in an even greater way than it did Ingress. Without the ability to submit new requests for landmarks, players in geographically isolated regions or even places where no one HAPPENED to play Ingress have a limited or essentially nonexistent Pokémon Go experience. There should be a system to submit requests for Pokéstops and Gyms, even if it takes a while to get them approved—even if the only requirement is that there isn't another one RIGHT next to it. Then, where there are Pokéstops and Gyms, have Pokémon spawn. Simple as that.

note: the point of the game is to get people to exercise, meet people, explore, etc. If having low-impact landmarks designated as Pokéstops is something the developers want to avoid, so be it. However, it seems unfair and even unrealistic that human population should have such an overwhelming influence on Pokémon spawn rates. If anything, it seems unrealistic that so many Pokémon should be in the city, but obviously that's a feature to encourage people to check out their surroundings wherever they might be. That said, Pokémon hang out in nature. There are many, many fewer Pokéballs in nature.

Pokémon Go is amazingly fun, but suffers from issues unique to an Augmented Reality (AR) experience. I would expect these to be addressed in due time, but based on available information it seems the request system in Ingress was disabled almost a year ago, affecting many would-be players in the meantime. There seems only to be requests available in Ingress in remote areas of Eastern Japan affected by the 2011 tsunami. Clearly, Niantic understands the need for users in certain areas to be able to submit requests. However, we need to let them know that Pokemon has a wide audience that (judging by the server issues we've seen) far surpasses that of Ingress. If you're not in a city (or on a college campus) chances are Pokémon Go is significantly less fun that it is downtown.

Some of us are fortunate enough to live in big cities, where Pokémon Go is not only fun, but wildly popular—and, if you think about it, potentially world-changing. You can see new parts of town and cool stuff you've often walked by but never really noticed, make new friends through lure placement and friendly competition over Gyms, or even just have the perfect excuse to finally start getting some exercise. Don't believe me? Just head over to Reddit's Pokémon Go page at https://www.reddit.com/r/PokemonGo/ and, in addition to meme-y jokes, how-to guides, and general information on the game, there are dozens of testimonies about how people's previously sedentary lifestyles have been upended by this game. This franchise, which has captivated so many of us since childhood, has somehow magically brought people out of their homes and away from their computers and TVs to start experiencing the world once again. People talk to each other on the streets, go places they never would have before, get exercise, and have an incredible time because of this game. Those of us who have witnessed this phenomenon firsthand owe it to everyone else to make heard the need for functionality that allows the rest of us to be included in this crazy, glorious, Pokémon-filled world.

 

*tl;dr stands for "too long, didn't read"—a phrase commonly posted after a long social media post meant to briefly summarize it for those who see a big chunk of text and just scroll over it, not wanting to commit the time to read it. Traditionally, this is posted after the text, but is often put before the text in a situation where scrolling is required to get to the end, where the end is cut off by a "read more" button, or just whenever.

 

p.s. I do NOT own the banner images. The background is the from the Pokémon website and likely belongs to Nintendo, while the foreground is from Reddit user u/HillbillyArcher. Let me know if you're mad about it and I'll replace it with a very crappy pencil drawing.



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