15 reasons Geocaching is better than Pokemon Go
Ok – confession time, I do play Pokemon Go and have found that it is quirky and fun. I also play Ingress, so when PG came out, I knew where all the Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops were in our local area (and near work…) so that was quite useful. Before that though, I had been Geocaching and whilst I enjoy Pokemon Go, I have found that caching is better in a number of substantial ways. Let me share them.
1 – GC makes you get out and about
For the last couple of weeks, certain areas have had a vastly increased number of cars parked strategically. Just so they can get close enough to that Gym without leaving the confines of the vehicle. PG players have devised all sorts of ways to hatch their eggs without having to do any real walking. It is true that many more dogs are being walked more often over the past couple of weeks, but geocaching is all about getting out and about.
It is physically impossible to find a logbook and sign same log from the confines of your vehicle. That _is_ part of the fun after all – the hunt. What’s the point when all you have to do is leave the app open on your desk at work and wait for the Pokemon to come to you?
2 – Exploration
Geocaching is all about the adventure and getting out and about. There are many quirky places which I have been to and found purely as a result of Geocaching. Once you have found something once, (with a couple of exceptions) you have found them. The challenge for that cache is over, however you have achieved something and most likely gone somewhere you would not have otherwise.
It is true that some exploration is done with Pokemon Go, but other than a (usually out of date) photo of what might have been near to that Pokestop 4 years ago, there isn’t really anything new about where you would go. Usually local and only where say 3 pokestop areas intersect so you can place some lures…
3 – Education
Geocaching’s premise (other than simply using a multi-billion dollar satellite network to find tupperware containers) also is to take people to interesting places. There are a number of things that I would just simply not have found out about without caching. You can find out about old railway lines and forgotten stations; about lives lost in bushfires or our planets; and of course there are Earthcaches. Earthcaches have a geological lesson attached. They could be all about fossils, or rock types, or how the land was formed and shaped.
So many interesting things to learn and it doesn’t stop there – if there is a topic you know about, or want to know about, then there is probably a cache relating to it. These are real-world useful and interesting information tidbits.
Pokemon Go on the other hand, can not be said to deliver the same level of intellectual stimulation. You might find out that a Jolteon can fry a Flareon nice and easily, but is that really useful in the real world?… I don’t think so either.
4 – Organised, stable and long running.
Geocaching has been running almost 16 years, where Pokemon Go has been running, well, if the servers are up currently, maybe for 5 minutes? Perhaps that’s a little unkind, but you know what I mean I am certain!
Geocaching HQ (where the main Groundspeak offices are) provides a centralised place for all sorts of management. Servers, resolutions and achievements or anything cache related comes from here. HQ is responsive, and did I mention stability yet?
Whilst I am certain that things will get better over time of PG, the Geocaching network is “reality based” rather than “augmented reality based” so its stability is always going to be greater.
5 – You don’t have to be “connected”
Playing Pokemon Go requires an active internet connection so you can download all you need and so the battles can be fought and central servers updated. The challenge of this for the servers is substantial, but even for the end users, ensuring connectivity is maintained can be problematic to say the least.
Geocaching however does not have this limitation to require connectivity to the telecommunications network. Use of a non-connected GPS device where all you have to do is to be able to receive the signals from GPS satellites is all it takes. Exploring the outback and climbing far away mountains in search of adventure is possible for Geocachers. Not so much so for Goers.
6 – Locations are reviewed and sensible
Locating a Geocache can be a tricky thing. That is of course part of the fun, but where you can place them is governed by an extensive set of rules. These rules explain how the game is played and what needs to be done. Rules exist about how far apart each cache must be (1/10 mile / 161 metres) so there is always some distance between points and rules exist about where caches can be placed.
For example, there is a guideline which clearly states not to place caches directly outside schools. People mysteriously loitering outside a school might be misconstrued. There are also reasonability rules regarding the placements when it comes to other places which might be considered less than desirable. Particularly for children…
As the locations for Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops were taken from Ingress, no such control or oversight was initiated. Whilst some stops were thinned out so as to not be crazy (as many Ingress portal locations are) there has been no review of them as to appropriateness for a Pokemon based game.
7 – Geocaching is an all ages activity
Caching is for anyone 5-105 (and probably younger and older respectively!). Anyone can have an account.
Initially, Pokemon Go was only able to be linked to a Gmail account which you cannot have if you’re under 13. My 11yo was devastated. This has since been rectified, but there is now a specific database which Niantic / Google and whoever owns which in the main has the contact details of thousands of young children. Hmmm – nothing is going to go wrong there…
Have you asked your average 50+ individual what a Psyduck is recently? Or a Jolteon? It’s not likely that they will have too much idea, or care that much either. Caching bridges this age barrier and appeals to many. It is not something that has to be done quickly or at any pace – it can be planned and executed without the frenetic finger swiping and tapping required by Pokemon Go.
8 – You get to find _REAL_ stuff
One of the great things about Geocaching is that there is a physical real container at the end of your search. When you get to that 1L cache tucked away and you open it to reveal a trove of goodies – that’s when the fun begins. You can swap materials in and out, perhaps find a gem or something which you’ve never expected. The kids love it too – take away trinkets are memories of a particular caching moment, or even made into travel bugs. Even finding travel bugs or geocoins is a great fun thing to do in and of itself – see where they have come from and help them on their way.
By contrast, the virtual world of Pokemon Go gives you nothing in the real world but a flat phone battery… You might take solace in the occasional random sighting of a Pikachu, and when you catch one, I have seen the happiness and fist pumping joy that gives you, but for what? It has a CP of 25 and you’ll never be able to use it…
9 – It’s not competitive by nature
So which faction are you – Mystic, Valor or Instinct? There are some benefits in terms of the ultimate Legendary Pokemon you may be able to get, and their attributes, but it is all about the competition. Taking over a gym, competing time and time again, fighting with your pocket monsters until they faint or are exhausted. Pokemon is all about the fight. Level up, compete, WIN WIN WIN! Grow that gym prestige! ENOUGH!
Geocaching is a peace loving pastime – it doesn’t have to be competitive, it doesn’t have to be a race. It’s about the journey, the search, the clever hides, the loot and the fun. There’s more than enough adrenalin to go around, and even that DNF you get – that one Eagle Rock cache that you will never find – well, that’s part of the fun too.
There is more than enough conflict in society and the world in general without pseudo reality games taking the fights to the streets as well as the virtual world. It doesn’t have to be this way…
10 – FTFs.
But whilst not being competitive, there are the FTFs – being the First To Find a new geocache when it is published.
There are two reasons this makes Geocaching better than Pokemon Go. First, as I will admit, there is a rush being the first person to write your name on that fresh piece of parchment. Being the first is always a fun thing. Usually it is only in your local area, but even when you DNF on that darn Atsmug cache at 12:30am, trying to be the first can be a lot of fun.
This is also where a great many caching conversations are held – there are always the first ones trying to find the elusive ones, the difficult ones and you can have many people gathered, many teams all searching together at once for that final challenge cache. There are always war stories to share and conversations to be had, and always in a good natured way. Those who have raced against the Bananas will know the challenge all too well, and then the thrill of the fresh logsheet. There is nothing quite like it in Pokemon Go.
The very fact that an FTF opportunity popped up whilst I was writing this piece reminded me of the joy that these can bring. For the record, it was a cypher puzzle, and I got there first! Oh the Joy!
11 – It engages your brain.
Caching is not just about finding things – there are mystery caches which truly engage your cerebral cortex. Make you use your brainpower and challenge you to think outside the box. Other than knowing that you need an Ice Type to fry that Dragonite, there’s not much to know. It’s all just an elaborate system of Paper / Scissors / Rock (Lizard / Spock).
There are caches which require cypher solving, glyph recognition and even ancient writing. There are maths or accounting problems to solve, complex genetic condons and pattern matching. Number systems, fibonacci sequencing and so many more. Puzzle caches can very much provide a challenge to you which engages your brain. Some people like them, some people do prefer just the hide and seek of the traditional cache, but even that takes a little brainpower.
12 – Geocaching is not driven by greed and the desire to get money.
Pokemon Go economics is tricky and convoluted, but at the end of the day you are encouraged to earn pokecoins each day so you can buy things to help you in game. These might be more lures, more lucky eggs, more incense or more poke balls because you just ran out! And it’s not just that this is expensive, the way that the “pricing” is structured is done so as to encourage you to buy more than you would because buying just one lot of 1200 coins is just not enough to get 8 lures for 1250 coins… It’s very cheeky the way it is structured and guess what – it is driven by that greed.
Yes, it cost a lot to set up, and the licensing fees are no doubt substantial, however Pokemon Go is designed by its nature to drain our wallets as much as it does our devices battery.
Geocaching on the other hand can allow you to find so much for relatively so little. Yes, as premium member there is a cost – this is to get access to premium caches, but versus given the world that this opens up is huge, substantial and global.
13 – Value for money
This is a lay down misère. Again, I draw your attention to the Full Pokeshop here on the right. Lets look at 1 year of playing geocaching, with access to millions of geocaches – USD $29.99 which is about AUD $40. For this you could purchase around 3000 pokécoins.
For that you could purchase 16 lures, 8 incense and 25 lucky eggs, or something like that – I’ve never paid them anything (yet), but lets face it – it is not a lot of stuff.
Lures get you 30 minutes of fun on 1 Pokestop so if you’re sitting in a place trying to attract the little blighters, then perhaps you have 2-3 hours of “fun” collecting Pokemon, but then only the ones which are attracted to your level and in that area will come. If you’re in the wrong area, you will get nothing but Pidgeys and Zubats. Not what I would call “value”.
And you’re always encouraged by the system to spend more. Say you buy 1200 Pokecoins. You can only buy one lot of 8 lures, because they’re priced at 680 for eight. Tantalisingly out of reach, so either you go for the 2500 coin package or just suck it up. Even then, if you go for the 2500 coins, then you might be able to get 4 lots of 8 lures – but wait – that’s 2720 coins! So perhaps the next lot up is better – 16 lures – that’s 5440 Pokecoins – just more than the $63 package!!! ARGH I have to get best value for money here – I need to get the top value – 14500 coins – Noooo it just doesn’t work! Getting that pokenomic sweet spot is frustrating to say the least. Give up and go caching – at least there’s no temptation to spend hundreds of dollars in a couple of clicks.
14 – Geocaching is not just a fad
Will Pokemon Go just be a fad? It’s hard to tell, but the early indicators are yes.
We love the nostalgia, and there’s the “new” factor right now, but over time, the gyms are getting fuller of higher level Pokemon as people play and play and play. The likely time to get to level 40 (the highest level you can reach) is likely to take between 6 and 12 months of pretty hard playing.
The hardcore players will keep at it, but you will lose many if not most along the way simply as it is such a rinse and repeat game dynamic. It will most likely be around for the next 2 or 3 years, and a few legendary Pokemon will be added to keep people guessing. It will most likely fizzle after that as the barriers to new entrants will be so high and require such an investment in time and effort so as to be off-putting. This is even now starting to occur – who can be bothered taking on a Level 23 player with a 2088 CP Exeggutor when all you have is a CP 27 Magikarp…
Geocaching has been around for more than 15 years now and once a cache is placed it is usually there for a long period. It needs to be maintained, yes, and this is done by the cache owners regularly. Until the military decide to turn off the GPS satellite network, or a solar EMP knocks them all out, they’re not going anywhere.
15 – Geocaching has no Zubats.
Nothing more to be said really…
When all is said and done…
Geocaching is about people sharing experiences and the fun of discovery with each other. I have made some great new friends through caching, discovered current friends and acquaintances who enjoy caching and even have rekindled long left behind friendships – it is a very small world after all. I have seen a great many amazing places and will see many more in years to come. I have enjoyed creating puzzles and challenges for people and educating them along the way with historical notes and interesting to visit places.
Pokemon Go has been fun so far but is becoming monotonous and repetitive. There are only so many times you can take down the Jolteon across the road before it gets, well, old. I’ll be stuffed if I’m paying any money to that cause.
But, whatever you do, enjoy it. Whilst I certainly believe geocaching is better value, more fun, more educational and overall a much better reason to get outside than Pokemon Go, if the dog gets an extra walk or 20, then that’s a good thing right?