Words On Wednesday

2016-09-14 The Gravitopia Pokemon GO Challenge

Gravitopia gives rewards to customers based on their Pokemon GO trainer level, but do I have what it takes to get the highest possible reward?

Gravitopia

A few weeks back, my wife and I made plans to take our sons to Gravitopia on Labor Day. They do a KidJump every weekday from 9 to 10am, where only kids 6 and under can jump with their guardians. With a 1 year old and almost 3 year old, this would be much more safe than having them jump with bigger kids and adults. Most weekdays, we  have to work from 9 to 10, but both of us get Labor day off so we figured we could do Gravitopia again. I took Cameron on Memorial day and he seemed to have a blast.

On Tuesday, August 30, a coworker alerted me to the Pokemon GO rewards that Gravitopia offers on Mondays or “PokeMondays.” Hold on… Labor Day is a Monday. If this was truly an every Monday event, I could flash my Pokemon GO trainer level and get some cool swag. That would be awesome.

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The “PokeMonday” reward tiers are separated by level. Any level 5 trainer gets a free pair of socks with the purchase of a ticket. Level 12 trainers get $5 off the purchase of a 1 hour ticket. Those who have reached level 20 get a VIP pass with a paid ticket. The top tier is for level 25 and up, with a VIP pass and a free shirt.

When I first saw the offer, I was level 24. This entitled me to at least a VIP pass, which I had no clue what the details were. However, just 1 more level and I could get a free shirt to boot. Anyone who knows me personally knows I’m a sucker for a free shirt. The gap from level 24 to level 25 felt huge, though, a whole 150,000 experience points. Would it really be feasible to get 150k xp in just shy of a week?

Pokemon GO

I hadn’t touched Pokemon Go in probably a week or more. When I was playing, it had become nothing more than taking advantage of any lure my coworkers would place on the PokeStop near work. I didn’t bother loading the app on lunch to hatch eggs, and I only went after Pokemon specifically when a coworker would point out the exact location and I didn’t yet have its Pokedex entry.

Clearly, I had no idea how long it would take to reach level 25, but a week didn’t seem like near enough time. Had I continued playing at the pace I started with, I would’ve easily been level 25, if not closer to 30. However, I had no idea that there would be rewards to be reaped from a higher trainer level.

Immediately, I started playing as much as I could on lunch breaks and afternoons when in range of PokeStop locations. I did my research and asked several coworkers how much xp per day they averaged. The consensus was that a good day could easily be 30k or more. At a pace of 30k per day for 6 days, I could realistically hit 180k xp in my allotted time frame. In order to hit 150k xp in 6 days, I would need to average at least 25k xp per day. Even if it might be difficult, my goal was possible.

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The Journey

Knowing that I could definitely hit level 25 before labor day, I made every effort I could to boost my xp gains. Having spent $20 from my Google Play balance on coins soon after the game was released, I decided to actually purchase some in-game items. I bought 8 egg incubators to run as many concurrent eggs as possible. I also bought an 8-pack of lucky eggs to maximize my evolution xp.

By the end of Tuesday, my first day of the challenge, I had only accrued 20k xp. That just wasn’t enough, I had to average at least 25k per day to meet my deadline. My one saving grace was that this was without any evolutions or lucky eggs. Any player worth their salt would know that low-level evolutions are the bread and butter for experience in Pokemon GO. If I could get 20k xp in a single day without any evolutions, surely a 30 minute lucky egg evolution spree would give me loads more.

On Wednesday morning, I popped a lucky egg and began evolving everything that I had enough candies for. After exhausting the 30 minute window of double xp, I had gained almost 60k xp. At 91,444 xp, I could easily hit 150k with a few days and another lucky egg of evolutions. The challenge still wasn’t guaranteed, but I felt confident that I would be successful.

At the end of Wednesday, I was up to about 108k xp. By Thursday, I had reached 130k xp. I was within 20k xp, surely I was in the home stretch. The problem, however, was that I took Friday off work and wouldn’t be back at work until Tuesday. You might think that being at work would inhibit my experience gains. On the contrary, being at work equips me to get tons more experience than I would get elsewhere. My desk is within range of a PokeStop that frequently has a lure on it, and downtown Spartanburg has a fairly high spawn rate for Pokemon. My house, on the other hand, has no PokeStops within a few miles, and I rarely ever see Pokemon spawn anywhere near me.

If I had enough candies and Pokemon to have a full lucky egg of evolutions, I could make it. However, I didn’t want to waste a lucky egg if I didn’t have enough to take full advantage of the 30 minutes or make sure that I would hit level 25. Over the weekend, I only averaged a few hundred or barely over 1,000 xp per day. By Sunday evening, I was only up to 137,674 xp before going to bed.

As fate would have it, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. If I couldn’t get any rest, I could at least pop a lucky egg and try to hit level 25 so that I wouldn’t have to rush in the morning before going to Gravitopia. Around 2 am, I used a lucky egg and began evolving all the Pokemon that I could. Sure enough, I hit level 25 without much trouble at all.

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The Reward

I had reached level 25 on Pokemon GO, but this did not mean that I would get a reward for certain. A few conditions made me question whether I would be able to claim the benefits for level 25. For one, I didn’t know if the PokeMonday promotion from Gravitopia was a recurring event, or just a one off promotion that there were still remnants of online. Plus, there was no indication about whether KidsJump tickets qualified for the PokeMonday rewards. Since KidsJump means I technically didn’t have a ticket of my own, maybe I wouldn’t be able to get the shirt and VIP pass.

On Monday morning, we piled into the lobby of Gravitopia ready to jump, whether I got the free swag or not. There were PokeMonday signs posted around the foyer, so at least one of my fears was assuaged. At the counter, I asked the cashier if the Pokemon GO rewards applied to kids jump. She looked over to a manager who had overheard for confirmation. The manager paused for a moment, then said “sure.” He explained that they had never seen anyone come in asking about the Pokemon GO rewards so early, but that he would let me get the free stuff.

As the cashier finished checking us out, I asked about the details of the VIP pass. She explained that it was a voucher, good for 1 free hour at a later date. From what I understood, there are no conditions on the pass. Even though we paid for a KidsJump ticket, I assume that pass could work for another KidsJump session or even a full adult ticket. She handed over the shirt and VIP pass, and I felt a slight sense of accomplishment. I’d done it, I had reached level 25 by the deadline.

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More Rewards?

While I’m perfectly content with the rewards I received, I’m curious exactly how much I can get out of my trainer level. As far as I could tell, the cashier never actually recorded my trainer level. By that token, I could probably let anyone take my phone in and show the trainer level to get the shirt and VIP pass for themselves.

One possibility I considered is that they may have flagged my account as having redeemed the reward. Every patron of Gravitopia must fill out a waiver, in the event of an injury. This only has to be done once, after which your name is registered in their system and can be brought up automatically on your next visit. Maybe this meant that we could redeem the rewards once per person, which means 4 free shirts and VIP passes for my family.

While unlikely, it’s entirely possible that they didn’t record the PokeMonday rewards at all. Perhaps I could show my trainer level and get a free shirt and pass every time I go, or at least until they recognize me again. I don’t usually encourage taking advantage of systems, but maybe they intend for people to be able to redeem the rewards multiple times. After all, PokeMonday is specifically on Mondays.

Afterthoughts

Now that I’ve met my goal of reaching level 25, where do I stand with Pokemon GO?

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I’m still rather miffed about the Pokemon tracking issue. I realize that some of the tracking tools online were taking a toll on the servers, but it still doesn’t seem fair to shut them down without reinstating your own first party tracking. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but give us something. Seeing a rare Pokemon in my nearby list and having no legal means to find it is extremely frustrating. A coworker uses some secondary account and a utility to share the locations of nearby rare Pokemon with a group of us, but I don’t know what he uses and I ain’t no snitch.

As a benefit, playing again did get me out and exercising more. For the past few weeks, I really hadn’t done much on my lunch breaks. Now, I’m back to hatching eggs and spinning PokeStops all around town. Even if an hour of walking isn’t quite enough to get ripped, it’s better than sitting stagnant for 9 hours a day.

One concern I had from before when I mostly stopped playing is all the money I would’ve wasted. The $20 that I had spent on coins from my Google Play balance, while it didn’t come out of my own wallet, did hurt to just leave behind. Now that I’ve used up basically all of it, I’m really not leaving anything of worth behind if I stop playing. I’m not abandoning any investment.

I’ll probably continue playing casually. I’ll walk on my lunch breaks to hit up PokeStops and catch any Pokemon I come across. If a rare Pokemon shows up within walking distance, I may take one of my breaks to go catch it. I certainly won’t go out of my way to play it, though. I’m not coming downtown during evenings or weekends for the sole purpose of catching Pokemon and cashing in on PokeStops with lures.

If I continue playing for long enough, I could honestly see hitting 30. I definitely won’t reach level 40, however. Several coworkers were calculating their time to reach 40 given their current experience level and start date, to figure out average xp rates per day. Even the most active players in my circle of friends were seeing figure well above a year. I certainly don’t play as much of them, and I doubt I’ll even continue playing the game for a year.

One wish I had is that they would give out more permanent incubators. At 150 coins a pop, temporary incubators are very expensive, and they only last for 3 eggs. I would love to be constantly running multiple eggs, but I refuse to drop a buck fifty for every additional egg that I incubate. While I realize that permanent incubators would detract from the continuing revenue stream of those dedicated players, I feel like it would encourage more casual players to stick around. Even if it were 1 extra permanent incubator for every 10 levels, that would cap out at 5 permanent incubators. Is that really such a loss, when so many players are always going to be spending money to run 9 eggs at a time?

Meta:

Words: 2150 | Characters: 11308 | Sentences: 119

Paragraphs: 33 | Reading Level: 11-12th Grade

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