Pokéing around: The unedited diary of the world’s northernmost Pokémon Go kingpin (for a day or two)


The following is a guest column by Christian Thorensen (a.k.a. Whiteout666)

I found out about the game late last Friday night (from my cousin) and on Saturday morning I installed the game to see what it was about – I was simply curious. (I used to play Pokémon Red way back – starting at age 11.)

Of course there was no Pokémon in my apartment, so I went outdoor to look a bit around – and I found a few. I quickly learned what the game was about (capture monsters and find pokestops/gyms in order to gain levels, items etc.), from the game itself and some info from my cousin.

On my second trip (hunt?) that day I went into the city centre, and found lots of pokestops, and, of course, the Rabalder gym. I was only level 3 or 4 at the time, so I was not able to “capture” the gym (you need to be level 5). The gym was, at that time, colored grey, meaning that no team had “occupied” it.

That evening, after reaching level 5, I took a small tour around town, and captured the Rabalder gym (which was then colored red/Team Valor). I chose the red team as well, so I added one of my monsters to the one being there. I also found, and captured the gym outside Jason Roberts Production and the one outside the North Pole Expedition Museum – both being grey (no team in control).

On Sunday, I went down to the Rabalder gym, which had been captured by a blue/Team Mystic player so I fought and won the gym back, before walking up to Nybyen, past Huset and down to Skjæringa. On my way I found 3 more gyms (Huset, John Munro Longyear and Taubanesentralen), all grey (unoccupied). So when I got back home I had “occupied” (all?) 6 gyms.

I guess(timate) I spent around 5-6 hours in total during Saturday and Sunday on this game. Still, this was mostly walking around in town to see which (types of) Pokémon that were in Longyearbyen. I guess I was one of the first players in Longyearbyen, which is why I found all the unoccupied gyms around town.

I did not use any IAPs (in-app purchases). I still had all the gyms when I left the island on Monday and Tuesday morning, but then I gradually lost the gyms over the next two days, and I think I lost the last one sometime on Thursday. Not being in Longyearbyen I have no idea who took them, or if there many people now playing…
As for “pitfalls” or “hazardous” areas around town… there is of course chances of sprained ankles, walking into other people/building, cross the street without paying attention to cars, and so on.

I did not see any pokestops or gyms on the mountain sides around Sukkertoppen, Mine 2B, or Platåfjellet/Varden. I don’t know about Svalsat or Mine 7, maybe there’s something there…maybe not. (I don’t really know what the game Ingress was about, but that game is the base/foundation of Pokémon Go and the positioning of the pokestops and gyms.) I don’t think (or hope!) there will be any problems regarding hazardous areas in Longyearbyen.

I really doubt we will see any robberies on remote pokestops in Longyearbyen! On the bright side, however, the game will bring (more) people outdoors and walking.

I’m 27 years old, which means I was 10 or 11 years old when Pokémon first hit Norwegian TV (in 2000). Around the same time both Pokémon playing cards and the (gameboy) games came around in Norway as well. So I got lots of playing cards (I never played the card game though!) and Pokémon Red, and I remember I played through the game over and over again. After a few years, with a borrowed Pokémon Blue game and a second Gameboy (borrowed from a friend), I reached my goal of capturing all the original 151 monsters, getting several of them to level 100 (maximum level).

So I spent a few years of my childhood with Pokémon (I never tried Pokemon Silver/Gold, or any of the later Pokémon generations), and even though I haven’t played or paid Pokémon any attention for the last 10+ years, I got curious when I heard about the new Pokémon Go game. The game brings back memories, I have never tried augmented reality in a computer game before (which I think is nice!) and that they have made a game that actually force people to be outdoor and move around (walk long distances!) is quite fascinating and very nice.

How long I will play the game? I have really no idea… I still play on the mainland – I mean, it’s less than one week since I started! – and will probably continue during summer and when I return to Svalbard in August; I need to check out the gyms to see if I’m able to retake them (or strengthening them). Don’t know how long I will continue, but I will probably be too busy in late august (sports, friends returning after summer, etc.) to be able to play and enjoy the game.

And I work full-time as well…