After our relatively recent article titled Discovering the Verified Level 40 Club: a secret club for the world’s most hardcore players, we were given an unique opportunity to reach out to the TL40 club and conduct a interview, quizzing the world’s most hardcore players about their habits, motivation and activities. A huge thank you goes out to @mzabowski for spending her time writing, instead of EXP grinding – follow her on Twitter if you want to learn more about the Club!
How did the group start and more important, why?
The group was started in March of 2017 by a few trainers who were among the relatively small number of people who had already hit Level 40. At the time, it was still very rare to cross paths with TL40s in most places, and they wanted to create a group of like-minded players who were striving for next-level achievements, now that they had reached the level cap. The group was created, and the founders began reaching out to trainers in their communities and over social media to build a member base.
As time went on and more players began to hit the level cap, the staff started completing in-depth verification on everyone’s accounts, including each other’s, to ensure the legitimacy that makes the group so unique.
What drives you to play the game at such a high level?
I think I can speak for a majority of the group when I say that most of us have a very competitive nature. It is all in good fun of course, but it is definitely motivating to see what others can do and push yourself to hit bigger goals. Playing a game that does not really have a distinct endgame, it’s something you need to create for yourself, and I think we have done a pretty good job of that; we have TL40 Leaderboards that rank overall numbers among the TL40 community, highlighting some of the top trainers worldwide for the game.
Monthly leaderboards based on previous months’ numbers also show monthly gains, which really showcases who is still out there grinding the hardest right NOW. These rankings have given a lot of members more motivation to elevate their grind beyond just XP. And for those who are looking for additional challenges, we also have a TL40 Raid Record book, which keeps track of the fastest times for all raid bosses. There is a chat group dedicated to improving solo/duo/trio times, and members test each other with unique challenges to see who can get the top time.
Overall, friendly competition is where it’s at, and it can get pretty intense!
Why do you keep playing?
At this point, in addition to the features mentioned above, I think most of us continue to play the game for the connections that we have formed with others. This group is very unique for many reasons, but in my opinion, one of the most special things that sets us apart is that most of us are leaders in our own communities across the globe.
It’s not always a fun position to be in, and a lot of times it can feel like actual work, which might seem silly in terms of a mobile game, but we are very passionate about our local communities and getting players of all ages, trainer levels, and skill together to do awesome things.
Having a place to bounce ideas and share local-group achievements is huge, since many of us go through similar issues in our own cities. So many of us now have several Messenger chats, Discord groups, and other forms of communication that we are in contact with each other every day. “PoGo family” is real, and that common interest is what keeps many trainers going.
What would you like from the game in the future?
I reached out to the Club for this question, because I don’t think staff can answer for everyone.
Many answers I received, of course, were directed toward a level cap increase. Considering that nearly 50% of Club members have reached “double 40” (40 million XP, twice the level cap), and 15% are beyond TRIPLE 40, it’s definitely something that’s been debated within the group, as to how Niantic would implement an increase, and when.
Several other answers I received were directed toward the gym system and creating more incentives to keep battling, since a majority seem to prefer the old gym mechanics. Other common themes revolved around raising achievement levels, such as releasing a Platinum Level beyond gold for current medals, and quests are also of interest. Overall, this group loves to push limits and would like to see the bar raised across the board.
Can you share some insights into the activities organised by the group?
In addition to the TL40 Leaderboards and Raid Record Book, we have recently launched a merchandise line, currently including T-shirts, hoodies, zip-ups, mugs, and phone cases featuring the 40 Club logo, for purchase by Club members. Profits from sales go toward future projects and meet-ups.
A 40 Club website is also in the works, which will give us a more organized platform to push new ideas and communicate information outside of the Facebook group.
Are there any plans for future events / meetups?
So far, nothing is planned. The February meetup event definitely exploded into something that was not expected! We had only had one official meet-up prior to it, when the group was significantly smaller. Everyone is definitely eager to get back together though, so interest is there. We’d like to look into a location outside of the US for the next one if we can make it happen, since the group is so far-reaching, and there have already been two US meet-ups. Stay tuned!
Has Niantic reached out to you in any way, shape or form?
They have not! A few of our members have spoken with members of their staff on different occasions at events (Go Fest, Safari Zone), and on one occasion, one was given an email address to send feedback and suggestions to from the group, so they definitely know we exist, but we have never been contacted formally in any way.
I personally think it is a missed opportunity to get some good insight from some of the players who spend the most time, money, and effort on the game.
Their move. 😉