Unless you haven’t left the house in a week, you’ve probably noticed more foot traffic lately around Hampton Roads.
You’ve also probably seen an unusually high number of people congregating on church steps, near a mural, or a landmark sign.
They’re most likely Pokemon Go Trainers, and they’re trying to catch ’em all (Pokemon, that is) in the new app that’s hit the area, and the world, with incredible force.
This is me to the right there, the Pidgey whisperer. I’m one of these new trainers.
For those of you who haven’t downloaded the app and have no idea what I’m talking about, here are the basics:
It’s an “app” game on smartphones. Basically users run the app, which works with the phone’s GPS and camera. The app shows them a map of their present location, and pops virtual Pokemon into the users’ path as he or she walks around. The user can then “catch” the Pokemon by flinging a Pokeball on their screen, “Angry Birds” style.
If you’re not a player, you can identify a “Pokemon Go Trainer” as a person walking at a leisurely pace, staring down at his or her smart phone, stopping periodically and occasionally wandering into a lawn or across the street, then resuming a path. They can be recognized by their calls to one another like, “Gotta catch ’em all!” or “There’s a Squirtle over here!”
There are more subtle nuances to the game, but that’ll get you started.
I’ve been playing since last Thursday, and while there are a few bugs and issues with the app, I mostly love it. It’s fun, interactive, and there are some incredible added benefits.
Pokemon Go: The Pros
- I’m actually meeting my neighbors.
I’ve never found Hampton Roads unfriendly, but you create an instant bond with people when you have the same goal. I’ve met folks that live three houses down from me with whom I’ve never exchanged more than a friendly “Hello” and before you know it, the conversation goes from Pokemon to making plans to grab a coffee sometime.
- I’m actually getting exercise. By accident.
The game is based on movement. You can’t catch Pokemon by sitting on your couch; you actually have to walk around and get them. Covering more ground also improves your chances of finding different and rare Pokemon, hatching eggs, and encountering “Poke Spots” which contain items to help with the game. I’ve been hitting 10k steps a day since I started playing. I’ve been sweating a lot, but definitely walking more.
- The nostalgia is strong
It may seem silly, but this hugely popular game is a nice break from the stress of adulthood. Getting in a “Pokewalk” after work reminds me of the last time I tried to “Collect them all,” which was about 20 years ago.
Pokemon Go: The Cautions
- Watch your data usage, battery life, and where you are going
Since the app uses your phone’s GPS and the screen basically has to be on all the time, it can sap your cell phone’s data plan and battery life quick. Keep an eye on your meters. And I shouldn’t have to tell you not to Pokemon Go and drive, but be aware when you’re walking, too. Magikarp and other water Pokemon hang out next to bodies of water, but make sure you don’t go in after them in real life.
- Be aware of your surroundings
Pokemon Go uses local landmarks as Poke Stops, and those can be planted with “lures” which bring in more, cooler Pokemon. Use discretion when hanging out at a “lure.” If you maybe feel a little uneasy, keep walking. And remember: do not trespass and do not climb fences.
- Be cool: support your local businesses
One of the most wonderful things about this game is that it makes local murals and landmarks into places to hang out. If you happen to wander into a local store or restaurant because they have a sign or a mural that’s a Poke Stop, grab a drink, or consider making a purchase.
One more awesome benefit- there are meetup groups and clubs popping up all over Hampton Roads at many of our favorite landmarks! Go on Facebook or Twitter and do a quick search, you’ll find something in the area.
Happy hunting! If you find a Pikachu… tell me where. info@hrScene.com