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People play Pokemon Go in Hong Kong on Aug. 6, 2016. (TYRONE SIU/REUTERS)
People play Pokemon Go in Hong Kong on Aug. 6, 2016. (TYRONE SIU/REUTERS)

Players and quitters: Who’s still playing Pokemon Go? Add to ...

The augmented reality mobile game has been out in Canada for about six weeks, capturing the minds of millions of players worldwide. Polls and articles report people aren’t playing it as much or weren’t into it at all.

And a recent Facebook poll conducted by The Globe and Mail found only 12 per cent of respondents were still playing all the time, 20 per cent were playing but not very often, 14 per cent had quit and 55 per cent had never started at all.

However, there are still many diehard players of all ages across the country. The Globe and Mail spoke to three of them about what keeps them going, and two people about why they quit soon after loading it onto their phone.

The Fans

Comedian Kris Siddiqi, 36, plays with his six-year-old son, Sebastian, in Little Italy, Toronto.

What level are you at?

Level 17

How much time do you think you spend on it now compared to when it first came out?

I just started leaving it on power-saving mode on bike rides to and from work or just around the city. You can hatch eggs and collect kilometres that way. Probably three to four times a day for five to 10 minutes. Just walking around with it on in the background. Not holding it in front of my face. That’s my kid’s job. We’ll go for a walk for 30 to 60 minutes a day, maybe to a new park in the west end, or when he goes up to visit his grandmother in North Toronto or Orillia.

What are some of your least favourite things about the game?

I think in Orillia it’s harder to play. There’s so much space out there, there’s not that many PokeStops.

Has the game prompted you to buy anything like a battery pack or Pokemon merchandise since you started playing?

No. Which is kind of nice, it’s one of those straightforward games.

Favourite one caught so far?

My son hatched a Pikachu right near the beginning.

Other comments

The first day I downloaded it was just such a great excuse for (Sebastian) to go for a walk before bed, when he’d usually be, like, “Can I watch one more thing?” This thing became popular right as I was coming out of high school so I had no idea what it was. But I’ve worked with kids for so long, too, so I’ve see it morph into so many things. It’s such a cool little neat thing with the GPS and augmented reality. The Japanese are always at the forefront of technology.

I work at Comedy Bar a lot, and it’s a PokeStop, so there’s a lot of older, mid-30s comedians who are also throwing modules there and we all just gather there. A lot of us are playing it.

Teacher Jacqueline Sheppet, 44, plays with her 11-year-old son, Evan, in Vancouver

What level are you at?

Level 23, Evan is Level 24

How much time do you think you spend on it now compared to when it first came out?

We pretty much make our day around the game. He’s on holidays; me, being a teacher, I don’t work in the summer. We’ve just been going to different places and seeing what different Pokemon we catch at each location. I already play other location-based games, so I’m combining Pokemon Go with other games, such as Geocaching. And I knew about Ingress, which is how I got into Pokemon, so I knew which places to go having played these games before. I could predict where PokeStops would be.

I live not far from the University of British Columbia. When I learned Pokemon Go was based on the Ingress portal, I went there and it was absolutely saturated.

What are your least favourite things about the game?

At the heart of it, it’s a very superficial game. It doesn’t have a lot of longevity in my mind. The mechanics around the fighting in gyms, they really are superficial. You take over a gym, someone takes over the gym. It’s too much based on luck, not enough on skill and levelling up, which is what your traditional game is like. I don’t think it has enough depth for it to be sustainable. Once we go back to school, I’m not quite sure about saying to my son, “Hey, let’s go walk along the beach for a couple hours catching Charmander.” I myself have been playing games like Geocaching or Ingress for eight years, as long as I’ve had my phone. I like the idea of exploring, so if you can concentrate on that piece instead of this deep sort of game, I think that will really help.

Has the game prompted you to buy anything like a battery pack or Pokemon merchandise since you started playing?

For my husband, yes. He wanted to be able to hatch eggs a lot quicker, so he bought incubators because he has limited time. Efficiency was important. My son, being 11, grew up with the Pokemon cards. It’s renewed his interest in cards, Pokedex books and other products he used to love five years ago, like Pokemon stuffies. Now he thinks about getting new cards.

Favourite one caught so far?

Yesterday, we caught a Scyther. We actually went out of our way to find it. It was our first one. My son saw it on his sightings list and said, “Stop the car!” And I did. And then he went running off and we found it in the middle of a soccer field. The fact that we went out of our way to find a fairly rare one was a bit of adrenaline pumping.

Serisha Iyar, a 21-year-old political science student at McGill University, who also works at the McGill Writing Centre in Montreal

What level are you at?

Level 18

How much time do you think you spend on it now compared to when it first came out?

An hour a day, maybe two. Not, like, in a row but as the day goes on I’ll check it when I’m at work or in classes or as I walk there.

What are your favourite and least favourite things about the game?

It’s very nostalgic. When I was a kid I watched Pokemon all the time, and then I watched it on Netflix at home. It’s fun to catch them. It’s like you have pets you don’t have to take care of. I don’t know if I’m super into it like other people, but it’s like anything, it malfunctions. To me it’s not a huge deal.

Has the game prompted you to buy anything like a battery pack or Pokemon merchandise since you started playing?

Definitely thinking about getting a battery pack, which will probably cost $40. It’s not just for Pokemon Go but (the game is) definitely a factor.

Favourite one so far

A Lickitung. It looked so funny and it’s pink, so, whatever.

Other comments

I don’t think anyone I know has stopped playing it. My friends and I talk about it in group conversations on Facebook. We compete based on levels, what you’ve caught and how far you’ve walked based on the number of kilometres.

The Quitters

Michael Schnier, 26, marketing assistant for health food store chain, Ottawa

What level were you at?

I think I was at Level 7 or 8. I think I picked Team Instinct.

How much time do you think you spent on it?

It monopolized a lot of time, so about two hours a day for three days. I found it was really greedy with my time. It needs to be open pretty much for everything, including the step counter. It was a big battery drain and you have to always have it on to make progress. I work in Nepean, a suburb outside of Ottawa. You have to be looking at the screen constantly, capturing Pokemon, grinding them up for rare candy, and then catch something that was a higher level. It just felt like a lot of busy work for not a lot of return.

What was your least favourite thing about the game?

I thought the graphics were really well done. If it was a bit more pocket-friendly, if it was more like a game I could play a little bit, read an article and come back to, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It just requires so much time and poking at the phone constantly, it didn’t appeal to me.

Has the game prompted you to buy anything like a battery pack or Pokemon merchandise since you started playing?

No, if anything, the idea of buying stuff completely didn’t appeal to me.

What was your favourite one?

Ottawa is just completely covered in Drowzees. Like, every five steps. I caught Rattatas. And I played the game when I was eight or so.

Steph Furlan, 28, online advertising manager, Ottawa

Why did you quit?

A few things led me to quit Pokemon Go, or at least put it aside for now. Work, sports and other hobbies keep me pretty busy. Sometimes I wouldn’t have the time or the means to travel and search for Pokemon. Once you’ve seen one PokeStop, one gym and caught or hatched a few Pokemon, the game starts to feel quite repetitive. Also, the biggest reasons I got turned off from Pokemon Go are it takes up a lot of your phone data and drains battery life (even though I had used the battery-saver option).

What level were you at?

I was at level six.

How much time do you think you spent on it when it first came out or when you first downloaded it?

I downloaded the game when it officially launched in Canada. I played Pokemon Go for about two weeks, on and off, before I stopped playing.

What are some of your favourite and least favourite things about the game?

I love that it’s getting people out of the house. Gaming gets a bad rep for making people seem lazy and anti-social. But Pokemon Go is encouraging players to be active (walking for several kilometres to hatch Pokemon eggs), to socialize (my friend and I started conversations with other friendly players about the nearest Pokemon and landmarks) and to explore (discovering new places in your neighbourhood or city you wouldn’t have otherwise visited).

Some of the things I dislike about the game are the very reasons I quit Pokemon Go in the first place. Ideally, if most cities had free Wi-Fi and charging stations everywhere, it would fix that problem. I think it would be more exciting if there were special events, Pokemon trading, and being able to battle with other players live.

Did the game prompt you to buy anything like a battery pack or Pokemon merchandise?

Personally, I never felt the desire to pay out of pocket for extra items. Instead, I’d always search or wait for a PokeStop to update to collect the items I needed for free.

Favourite one caught or encountered so far?

I’m pretty proud of the fact that I caught a Pikachu as my starter Pokemon.

All interviews have been lightly condensed and edited.

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