Many Grayson County citizens have seen people of all ages walking around with their phones, gathering in certain areas, talking about finding, and training Pokémon. This worldwide phenomenon has been caused by the newly released app, Pokémon Go.
Pokémon Go is the newest game of the franchise which originated as a Japanese game in 1996 whose players caught, trained, and battled mythical creatures called Pokémon in order to become the Pokémon League Champion with side adventures on the journey.
Pokémon, which celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year, quickly gained popularity and expanded with video and computer games, a trading card game, an animated television series, and movies.
The app, which was released on Wednesday, July 6, is downloadable on iPhone and Android phones and is free to the public. The game is an augmented reality game, meaning that the game gives the player a live direct or indirect view of an environment whose elements are provided by computer generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics, or GPS.
The app mixes real world elements on the virtual world of the phone. The Pokémon Go app uses phone’s GPS and clock to determine what Pokémon will appear at a given time. Certain real-world monuments and locations are deemed Pokestops and Pokémon Training Gyms where other players congregate.
“It’s every 90’s kid’s dream,” said Philip Lehman, a Pokémon Go player and longtime Pokémon fan.
In Leitchfield, Pokéstops, where a player can find certain free items important in the game, include the Jack Thomas House sign and the War Memorial on the square.
A popular Pokémon Training Gym, where players can battle their Pokémon for control of said gym, is the Courthouse on the Square. Other “hotspots” in this general area are around St. Joseph Catholic Church, Leitchfield First Baptist Church, and the Leitchfield Post Office.
“They’re places where it won’t be closed or get in anybody’s way,” said Lehman, about the Pokéstops and Gyms in the game, commenting that many people who play the game come late at night to avoid traffic, and to catch the best Pokémon.
The game requires players to walk in order to catch, train, and battle Pokémon, even though the app will detect Pokémon in the area while driving.
“I think it’s the best thing that happened in the gaming world because I have a lot of obese friends who are coming out and exercising without realizing it,” said Lehman. “It’s one of the best ways to meet people and make friends off social media. It’s giving the opportunity to meet people.”
Later at night, more Pokémon Go players come out to the square to look for Pokémon.
“This is the most people I’ve seen out at one time. It’s insane,” said Teresa Graas, a Pokémon Go player at the square Wednesday evening, July 13.
Most Pokémon, according to players, are in populated areas, possibly in the hope that no one will trespass on the private property or take unnecessary risks, a worry for the public.
“We’re respectful, and we don’t enter other people’s yards,” said Lehman and fellow Pokémon Go player Max Hawkins, and neither have heard of anyone doing so in this area.
Most of these players have been fans of the game since the beginning when the first game was released 20 years ago.
“It’s bringing back your childhood; it’s nostalgic,” said player Kaleb Chaffins.
However, many different generations can be seen walking on their phones searching for these fantastical mythic creatures. Players range from 50-years-old to people in their twenties to younger children with their parents.
The game is addicting and those who love it credit the way the game is played to why the game has become so popular so quickly.
“It’s the thrill of going out and getting something—it’s an adventure,” said Graas.
The game is credited for getting people out exercising as well, however there are those concerned with the safety of players and those around them.
The game reminds players to pay attention to their real-world surroundings for their own safety.
As Pokémon Go players walk through the town, both Pokémon Go players and non-players alike are asked to remain respectful.
As the game suggests, pay attention, and as players mingle and walk along the sidewalks at night, have fun but be careful while trying to catch ‘em all.