Less than a week after the release of Pokémon Go, I’ve essentially been forced to retire as a Pokémon trainer.
My problem is that at lowly level 4 — which took forever to get to, by the way — I have run out of Pokéballs. And since they don’t replenish automatically, I’m essentially walking through a world surrounded by tantalizing fantastical beasts with no way to catch them. If you’re a trainer who has the enviable ability to, say, walk around Brooklyn regularly, then that dilemma probably won’t resonate. No matter where you are in a city, you can walk a few blocks in any direction and find yourself knee deep in Pokéstops, the real world locations where players can replenish their arsenal, three to five Pokéballs at a time. When you have five Pokéstops scattered over the space of a few blocks, you’ll always have more than enough ammo.
In a city, Pokéstops are so plentiful that when the inevitable lists of most requested updates began springing up, automatically refilling Pokéballs aren’t even among the requests. See, living out in the boonies, I have one Pokéstop that’s even remotely nearby. It’s two miles away, and it’s a bar.
It’s not that the Brightwood Tavern is sketchy or anything. They’re actually really nice, the food is quality, and the beer is very cheap. It’s exactly my shade of dive. Therein lies the problem. By making PokéStops — and subsequently Pokéballs — so scant outside cities, the world has given me a choice between avoiding the phenomenon that’s sweeping the world or playing Pokémon Go and becoming a raging alcoholic.
With no Pokéballs in my hopper, I now have three options. Option one: I get in my car and drive around Mt. Hood in search of sparsely scattered Pokéstops, picking up Pokballs three and four at a time. That’s a total time killer.
Option two: I shell out actual cash so that I, a 32-year-old with a mortgage, might enjoy hunting and gathering little cartoon monsters. For some reason that’s kind of a hard one to rationalize.
Option three: I plunk down at the Brightwood Tavern and continuously check-in to their PokéStop every five minutes until I’ve harvested enough Pokéballs to safely continue catching them all, once I’m back in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, I can’t afford the bar tab. It’s essentially the same thing as paying money to play Pokémon Go, only in this scenario I get beer. That does soften the blow a bit, but spending wads of time at the local bar probably isnt a good daily habit to get into.
In short: the only viable path is the one that puts me out of the game, at least temporarily. Playing Pokémon Go out in the sticks is tough. It turns the cutesy mobile game into a high stakes cage match. City dwellers don’t know the pressure of trying to slowly grind your way up the Pokémon ladder when you’re given resources at the same rate bullets are handed out in a zombie apocalypse. You have to be sharper, more efficient, and you definitely have to learn how to throw.
Why, oh God, didn’t I learn to throw?