It didn’t take very long for Pokémon Go to take over the world. On the plus side a lot more people are getting outside than ever. On the downside some of them are getting into some pretty stupid situations. One thing in particular that’s confusing many is the way the map was arranged. How did Niantic (the developers) choose where Pokéstops (where players get items) and gyms (where trainers battle) were? How did they decide which Pokémon would be where? It’s actually an interesting story.
Where Did the Pokéstops and Gyms Come From?
The data behind the Pokéstops and gyms comes from another Niantic game called Ingress. Ingress was a game similar to Pokémon Go that included locations like Pokéstops and gyms. These locations were chosen using historical monuments and markers, along with public artwork from photos that were geo-tagged on Google. Pokémon Go uses the same database. Though of course the locations are turned into Pokéstops and Gyms instead! We can’t say for sure but Ingress have said that there are Pokéstops in Antarctica and the North Pole because some portals (the version of Pokéstops in Ingress) ended up there.
How Pokémon Locations were Decided
The data about which Pokémon show up where is based on another set of data entirely. The Pokémon locations were determined by geographical markers. There are a lot of different mapping designations such as bodies of water, whether the area is a zoo or a park, and lots of other things. So basically water Pokémon will generally show up near water.
While Niantic couldn’t get into too many details they also said that there was another set of data about geographical classifications including the climate and vegetation of an area. This data even includes the kind of soil there. All of this is used to put Pokémon in a location that feels appropriate to that type of Pokémon.
How Players are Kept Safe
Ever since the launch of Pokémon Go the world of social media has been filled with tales of people going to some real extremes to try and catch ‘em all. Niantic say that, to them, trainer safety has always been important to them. It was important that Ingress portals (which are now stops and gyms) were in publically accessible areas. So now the Stops and Gyms are also in safe and convenient locations. This hasn’t stopped reports that people have found their way into some strange locations though.
Niantic have also said the same thoughts went into the Pokémon themselves. They wanted to limit spawning so that Pokémon shouldn’t spawn on roads or in places where players would have to do something risky/stupid to catch them. There is no need to go towards a Pokémon as soon as it pops up. Just click on it and stay somewhere safe out of the way. That was the idea anyway. Walking down the street with your head hunched over your phone is hardly the safest way to walk down a street after all. Don’t forget to look up every so often!
Ingress have said they have some pretty big plans for Pokémon Go. One of the first things they want to do is further develop Pokéstops and Gyms to add some depth to the game. Right now players can attach a lure to a Stop to make Pokémon appear, but there are plans to do much more than just this.
They also plan to introduce Pokémon trading to the game. It’s something they believe will help drive the spirit of cooperation, competition, and social interaction aspects of the game. Many of the plans they have for Pokéstops and Gyms are also built around this idea.
If you’re a fan of Pokémon Go then the future definitely looks interesting.