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For the past few weeks, large numbers of people have been staring listlessly at screens, looking past the world as it is and trying to comprehend a complex alternative reality that only has meaning to them. And some of those postgraduate students have also been playing Pokémon Go!
The world has been transported backwards in time to the mid-90's, as once again the population is gripped by PokéFever. While the phone app is a quirky take at augmented reality, we here at FindAMasters and FindAPhD have noticed some similarities between catching 'em all and postgraduate study.
They can be seen scuttling around the streets of many towns and cities. No, not those cute little hordes of Krabby or that annoyingly abundant population of Rattata – not even the masses of hat wearing, backpack hoisting and mobile-phone-toting Pokémon Trainers.
I am of course talking about the average postgraduate student. Those ever-present masters of blending in. Postgraduate students enjoy walking. It keeps their brilliant brains ticking and their bodies fit and healthy. Either that or they've stretched their weekly budgets too thin and they would rather eat food than catch the bus.
Bulbasaur used Megadrain - it was super effective! When Pokémon Go is open for any substantial period of time, it saps an alarmingly large amount of energy from a mobile phone. It takes a toll on the body too. Eyes can get tired, while hands (and legs!) start to ache. Not to mention tripping over that rock whilst running after a Pikachu! So its important to step away from the phone every so often. While Pokéhunting is fun, there is nothing quite as refreshing as plugging in, charging up and doing other things.
The same can be said about studying. Yes, it's a very important time in a person's life. Yes, there are huge amounts of work to do. Yes, it can be stressful and upsetting at times. All very valid reasons to sometimes disconnect and do something else. Postgraduate students pride themselves on writing a top notch research paper, but they've also mastered how to salsa and can cook with the best of them. Not to mention that they have evolved their lowly Magikarp into a terrifying Gyrados while waiting for the oven to heat up.
To really be successful at Pokemon Go, a player has to use their time wisely. Sure, it’s a simple game with a simple concept but one that is very challenging to complete. Even without the constant server crashes and bugs that force players to restart, the amount of Zubats that have to be waded through before finding the rarer Pokémon will take up a considerable chunk of time. It’s all about planning ahead. What amount of precious time should be spent levelling up a favourite Pokémon or battling at the local gym? What can be done until the next egg is ready to hatch? More importantly, when is the optimum time to use rare items such as Lucky Eggs or Lure Modules?
These examples of time management can be taken across into the world of postgraduate life where figuring out when to study or when to take a break is just as important. Knowing deadlines, holding dedicated writing sessions, grading essays – by spacing out responsibilities postgraduate life can be made less stressful. It's a daunting task, but one that will be overcome with some careful planning and some good ol’ patience.
Whatever the age of the player and their attitude towards Pokémon Go, the app is encouraging people to get out of the house and discover their surroundings. While this exploratory behaviour has brought about some negative consequences, there are a wealth of positive aspects to the game.
Many of them echo the best parts of the postgraduate mindset. Trekking out into the outer sphere of human knowledge and carrying out new experiments. Socialising with people from all walks of life and delving deeper into your subject. Most of all, it’s about trying out new things and having fun.
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