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Local venue a hot Pokestop


Carlton Munroe started noticing more people hanging around Glasgow Square last week – not totally unusual in the summer with its riverfront location.

But when one group sitting at a picnic table on Monday afternoon were still there when he left a Jubilee board meeting at 8 p.m., he found it a bit odd.

It wasn’t until talking to his 19-year-old son that the town’s program and events manager found out why the performing arts venue was suddenly seeing more patrons than normal while there were no events scheduled.

Glasgow Square has found itself a popular destination for gamers as one of the sites for a Pokestop – a term well known to mobile phone users who have jumped on the Pokémon Go bandwagon and is a place where users can go to collect different items to help them advance in the game.

“It’s been steady, every day, between people hanging out on the riverfront and in the parking lot,” Munroe said, adding that he’s noticed packs of gamers – anywhere from five to 15 people – on their phones. “There was one night that seemed to be busier than usual. I don’t know if there was a bigger catch that night or what. It seemed like there was 20 or 25 people.” 

The game that has countless teens and young people glued to their phones around the world since its release earlier this month is based on the characters from the franchise that first appeared 20 years ago, using augmented reality to allow users to catch animated creatures only viewable through the app while actually navigating the real world.

“If someone has their phone out and they look a little guilty, they’re probably playing Pokémon,” said Adam Johnson, a New Glasgow-based Pokémon enthusiast who helped to introduce me to the app.

Pokémon Go was officially launched in Canada on Sunday – though many Canadian users were able to cheat the system and download it ahead of time – and the app’s servers promptly crashed as users tried to register for the game on their smartphones.

They were back up by Monday when I finally downloaded the app, about a week or so after most of my friends – who are in their 20s and early 30s – had started playing it.

Johnson, a 26-year-old music teacher in real life, was one of the first people who mentioned the game to me after he arrived at our mutual friends’ apartment one night last week an hour late because he had been busy trying to catch Pokémon at Trenton Park.

Johnson, like many others who have embraced the app, grew up playing the video game, which was created for the Nintendo’s Game Boy handheld console in the mid-1990s and grew into a major franchise that included trading cards, TV shows, movies, comic books and toys.

It became so popular, in fact, that Johnson remembers Pokémon cards getting banned from school property when he was in Grade 5 at Temperance Street school.

“I think kids might have been getting in fights and/or stealing Pokémon cards.”

For Johnson then and now, the appeal of the game, which is free though users can choose to purchase items that help them advance, is the gratification that comes with advancing in the game as the player can tangibly see their progress in catching the cartoon monsters.

It’s also nostalgic for players in their 20s and 30s.

“I don’t think it would be as popular with people in my age group if it wasn’t,” said Johnson. “I was seeing it on Facebook a lot and it kind of brought back memories of catching them all.”

Though there were certainly people still playing the game before Pokémon Go, the app has definitely created a resurgence in popularity for the company – proven as Nintendo traded $4.5 billion worth of shares on Friday, breaking Tokyo stock market records from this century according to business publication Bloomberg.

It has received plenty of media attention as bizarre stories surface about players’ experiences: one user stumbled across a dead body while playing in Wyoming while gamers in Missouri were robbed when four teens used a feature in the app to attract victims to a certain location.

Johnson noted that though there are plenty of criticisms floating around about the game, it has plenty of benefits.

“It is getting people to do a lot of exercise and… it’s a great conversation starter. Even if you run into someone and it turns out that they’re not playing Pokémon, you can kind of have a laugh about the fact that people are playing Pokémon. It’s very social and is actually outside,” he said, noting that it still feels like the original game, too.

Because of the game, Johnson said he’s met about a dozen people, often approaching them to ask, “Are you doing what I’m doing?” which is what we asked when we approached three young women standing near the New Glasgow Library on Monday afternoon.

The trio had set up a “lure,” which attracts the creatures to a particular location for about half an hour.

Before I was able to ask any of our new friends many questions, we all stopped talking for a minute to catch a Jigglypuff before resuming conversation.

“I thoroughly enjoy it. You see everybody walking and you know they’re out playing. It’s got a ton of people moving,” said 17-year-old Maddie Kennedy of Lyons Brook.

Though you could potentially catch a few Pokémon at your home, you have to actually walk around to make it to Pokestops and gyms, which is what 21-year-old Tristin Mabey likes about it.

“I kind of like how it gives real life places that are of significance. I just like history… so I enjoy that part of it too,” said 17-year-old Olivia Elliott of Meadowville, referring to Pokestops connection to real-life landmarks – like Glasgow Square.

“It’s probably the first gaming experience where people are outside and you can actually see them,” Johnson said.

 

Amanda.jess@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

But when one group sitting at a picnic table on Monday afternoon were still there when he left a Jubilee board meeting at 8 p.m., he found it a bit odd.

It wasn’t until talking to his 19-year-old son that the town’s program and events manager found out why the performing arts venue was suddenly seeing more patrons than normal while there were no events scheduled.

Glasgow Square has found itself a popular destination for gamers as one of the sites for a Pokestop – a term well known to mobile phone users who have jumped on the Pokémon Go bandwagon and is a place where users can go to collect different items to help them advance in the game.

“It’s been steady, every day, between people hanging out on the riverfront and in the parking lot,” Munroe said, adding that he’s noticed packs of gamers – anywhere from five to 15 people – on their phones. “There was one night that seemed to be busier than usual. I don’t know if there was a bigger catch that night or what. It seemed like there was 20 or 25 people.” 

The game that has countless teens and young people glued to their phones around the world since its release earlier this month is based on the characters from the franchise that first appeared 20 years ago, using augmented reality to allow users to catch animated creatures only viewable through the app while actually navigating the real world.

“If someone has their phone out and they look a little guilty, they’re probably playing Pokémon,” said Adam Johnson, a New Glasgow-based Pokémon enthusiast who helped to introduce me to the app.

Pokémon Go was officially launched in Canada on Sunday – though many Canadian users were able to cheat the system and download it ahead of time – and the app’s servers promptly crashed as users tried to register for the game on their smartphones.

They were back up by Monday when I finally downloaded the app, about a week or so after most of my friends – who are in their 20s and early 30s – had started playing it.

Johnson, a 26-year-old music teacher in real life, was one of the first people who mentioned the game to me after he arrived at our mutual friends’ apartment one night last week an hour late because he had been busy trying to catch Pokémon at Trenton Park.

Johnson, like many others who have embraced the app, grew up playing the video game, which was created for the Nintendo’s Game Boy handheld console in the mid-1990s and grew into a major franchise that included trading cards, TV shows, movies, comic books and toys.

It became so popular, in fact, that Johnson remembers Pokémon cards getting banned from school property when he was in Grade 5 at Temperance Street school.

“I think kids might have been getting in fights and/or stealing Pokémon cards.”

For Johnson then and now, the appeal of the game, which is free though users can choose to purchase items that help them advance, is the gratification that comes with advancing in the game as the player can tangibly see their progress in catching the cartoon monsters.

It’s also nostalgic for players in their 20s and 30s.

“I don’t think it would be as popular with people in my age group if it wasn’t,” said Johnson. “I was seeing it on Facebook a lot and it kind of brought back memories of catching them all.”

Though there were certainly people still playing the game before Pokémon Go, the app has definitely created a resurgence in popularity for the company – proven as Nintendo traded $4.5 billion worth of shares on Friday, breaking Tokyo stock market records from this century according to business publication Bloomberg.

It has received plenty of media attention as bizarre stories surface about players’ experiences: one user stumbled across a dead body while playing in Wyoming while gamers in Missouri were robbed when four teens used a feature in the app to attract victims to a certain location.

Johnson noted that though there are plenty of criticisms floating around about the game, it has plenty of benefits.

“It is getting people to do a lot of exercise and… it’s a great conversation starter. Even if you run into someone and it turns out that they’re not playing Pokémon, you can kind of have a laugh about the fact that people are playing Pokémon. It’s very social and is actually outside,” he said, noting that it still feels like the original game, too.

Because of the game, Johnson said he’s met about a dozen people, often approaching them to ask, “Are you doing what I’m doing?” which is what we asked when we approached three young women standing near the New Glasgow Library on Monday afternoon.

The trio had set up a “lure,” which attracts the creatures to a particular location for about half an hour.

Before I was able to ask any of our new friends many questions, we all stopped talking for a minute to catch a Jigglypuff before resuming conversation.

“I thoroughly enjoy it. You see everybody walking and you know they’re out playing. It’s got a ton of people moving,” said 17-year-old Maddie Kennedy of Lyons Brook.

Though you could potentially catch a few Pokémon at your home, you have to actually walk around to make it to Pokestops and gyms, which is what 21-year-old Tristin Mabey likes about it.

“I kind of like how it gives real life places that are of significance. I just like history… so I enjoy that part of it too,” said 17-year-old Olivia Elliott of Meadowville, referring to Pokestops connection to real-life landmarks – like Glasgow Square.

“It’s probably the first gaming experience where people are outside and you can actually see them,” Johnson said.

 

Amanda.jess@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda

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