In a world where babyboomer after babyboomer criticizes millennials for their “obsession” with smartphones, Pokémon Go challenges the norm by getting 20-somethings out of the house to enjoy churches, museums, parks, malls, and other local areas. Not only could PoGo effectively solve retail issues and has provided a healthy experience for those with depression and anxiety, but it also provides a way for people to genuinely connect with each other—yeah, even with their noses in their smartphones.
As a singular person playing in Los Angeles, I’ve interacted more with the neighborhoods where I live and work in my first week of Pokémon training than I had in six months of actually living and working there. Most of this has been due to the strong FaceBook and Reddit communities dedicated to helping each other find the Pokémon missing from our collections. But surprise human interaction has happened on the street, too—once, when I was battling a gym in a mall, a guy at a food kiosk gave me some water even though we were on opposing teams. A few days later a woman and I caught an Arbok at the same time on the same street corner and cheered each other on while we did it.
And last weekend my boyfriend and I had our first ever Poké-date. That’s right. We had a date… dedicated to Pokémon.
While that might be the most cliché 90’s thing you’ve ever heard, for us it was perfect. If you’re like us and work over 40 hours a week, having something that motivates you to get out of the house and explore your city together is worth pursuing. With the world as the game board, you and your S/O can have a fun, competitive, but relaxing date walking around exploring your surroundings—here are some tips to help your experience playing with your partner as enjoyable as possible.
1. Dedicate a large span of time to it
Like anything else you do in a relationship, Pokémon Go will take some time. And it will demand it from you, since the app doesn’t background refresh or send you push notifications. You have to have it open at all times, so if you want to get serious about playing with your S/O, don’t be afraid to set aside a full day—or at least several hours—for some in-depth play that will satisfy your craving for the game and let you spend some serious time with your favorite buddy.
For some, attention span (or battery life) might prohibit an all-day adventure, but this is an opportunity you have to explore entire areas of your city with a person who you like a LOT. Different Pokémon types spawn in different geographical locations, so it’s easy to hang out in your neighborhood catching the local Pokémon in the morning and then journey to a lake or beach in the evening for those elusive Magikarp. This is an opportunity to have fun, so use it!
2. Be at the same level
If you want to really play with one another, having one person who’s super experienced and one person who’s super new might be tough for the newbie. The experienced player will be able to access a bunch of the cool features that aren’t available until the later levels, like team selection, razz berries, or gyms. Have you ever played someone’s favorite card game with them? Chances are, they’re VERY GOOD and you didn’t have much fun after they beat you four times in a row.
Luckily, players level up pretty quickly for the first few levels, so if your S/O is still below level 10, focus on doing things that will help them level up faster, like tracking Pokémon that are new for them so that they get extra XP bonuses, or walking farther with them to hatch their eggs quicker. You’ll help them catch up to you faster and get a little extra XP for yourself along the way.
3. Be on the same team
This is a follow up to tip #2. If you’re playing together, playing on the same team is almost crucial. At level five, you get to pledge your allegiance to one of three teams: Instinct (Yellow), Mystic (Blue), or Valor (Red). The three teams break down to how their leaders—who are, to us, only the babelicious silhouettes seen above—choose to research Pokémon. When you choose a team, you’ll go into gym battles and fight for that team, which means if you and your S/O are the same color, you’ll be working together, not against each other. You can Google together for tips on how to choose in advance, or just wait for the surprise when you reach the right level. Choose carefully, though—team selection cannot be reversed.
That said, being on different teams wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to a couple playing Pokémon Go together. I know some Valor/Mystic relationships that get a little heated at times, but the priority (for most of us) is having fun with each other, not winning, and even if different leaders speak to you with their respective philosophies, you’ll still have a good time
4. Take on gyms together
Victories are always that much sweeter when your S/O is on your side, and taking on gyms is great for that. Only accessible after team selection, gyms are only controlled by one team at a time. If you go to a gym controlled by your team, you can have friendly battles or “training sessions” that will strengthen your Pokémon and increase the gym’s strength, or “prestige.” Assuming you heeded point #3 and chose the same team, you and your S/O could both hit the same gyms together to build your Pokémon’s strength and increase your level as trainers.
But on the flip side… if the gym in question ISN’T controlled by your team, you can fight to take it back. As an individual, you go in with six Pokémon of your own and try to defeat all the Pokémon in residence at the gym. Most likely, these Pokés are super strong, so going in as two people with a team of twelve—instead of one person with a team of six—will increase your chances of taking down the gym’s prestige enough to insert your own Pokémon to defend it, thus taking it back for your team.
However, if you’re on separate teams, you can always duke it out right there for who can get control of the gym, or seek out gyms of the third team and fight for who gets to take it over.
5. Catch everything. Literally.
This is more of a general game tip than a tip specific for those playing with their loved one, but for every Pokémon you catch, you get valuable stardust and Pokémon candy. Stardust can be used to level up any Pokemon, so catching another Pidgey isn’t necessarily a bad investment because the rewards can be used for those stronger and rarer. Plus, the game spawns the same Pokés at the same time for everyone, so you’ll both have the opportunity to catch whatever appears on the side of the road simultaneously. This means you’re hardly ever catching a new Pokémon alone while your partner looks on—you’re physically doing the fun part together.
5. Look out for each other
When walking around as a solo person with my tracker out, I have been known to bump into the occasional signpost. However, you and your S/O can walk around with one pair of eyes up at all times. This makes you less prone to stumbling into ditches, but it also means you’re better protected from people who might try to take advantage of distracted gamers—like pickpockets or others who might be untrustworthy. Plus, two people means twice the carry weight, so you can both bring extra snacks, water bottles, and other on-the-go equipment to make camp somewhere.
6. Research fun areas beforehand—and not just the Pokéstops!
There’s all sorts of “Best Spots in LA for Pokémon” or “Everything You Need to Know About PoGo in NYC” articles out there. Definitely do that research if you want to play side by side. But also take advantage of a place you have been dying to go. Have you explored your city’s downtown yet? Have you been to the beach this summer? Have you gone to the zoo? Local museums? These are all likely to be hot spots for Pokémon, Pokéstops, and Gyms anyway, so if you want a more relaxed Pokédate, it’s worth prioritizing the museum you’ve been dying to visit over the Charmander nest. (But then don’t forget to hit the Charmander nest on the way home.)
7. Spend money, but not Pokécoins
If you spend twenty minutes wandering around a sandwich shop trying to find the Charmander that’s somewhere inside, behind, above, or below it, you might want to pay your dues and buy a snack from them. Eating out always has a date-y feel to it, so pick a spot that you and your S/O both like with a Pokéstop right over it and have lunch or dinner. Bonus points if you get a table next to an outlet and you can charge your phones while you take a break and enjoy where your Pokégame has led you.
8. Help each other out with lures
If one of you has some lures in your bag, consider dropping one at a nearby park’s Pokéstop, settling in, and genuinely enjoying the afternoon out. Lures last a half hour and benefit whoever is in the area (not just the person who dropped them). Your phone will vibrate to alert you when a Pokémon is near, so having a picnic and letting the Pokémon come to you is an easy and fun way to spend time with another person while also catching ‘em all. This is also great for those interested in thriftier dates, because you can bring your own lunch/snacks and enjoy the city scenery without spending a dime.
9. Train with each other (sort of)
Although there’s no way to directly battle with each other yet (hopefully this is coming soon) you can theoretically “train” with one another if you’re in the right spot at the right time. If your S/O has placed their Pokémon in a gym, you can choose to battle that gym (whether they’re friendly or not). In battling the gym, you’ll be battling your S/O’s Pokémon, providing some extra experience for both of you. Be aware, though—what you’re battling will be your S/O’s AI, not actually your S/O (in other words, don’t fall in love with a robot).
10. Don’t stress too much about the game—just have fun
At the end of the day, Pokémon Go is just a game. It’s highly interactive with its users and their surroundings, which means that no matter how you play—solo or with the love of your life—you’re going to have a good time. But, especially if you’re playing with a loved one, remember to just relax and have fun. Pursue the adventure as a couple and don’t get caught up in singular victories or team biases—instead, opt for mutual excitement and enjoy the time you get to spend with one another living out your childhood dreams of catching a Charizard.