Pokemon Go is getting everyone outside

by Allison Stalberg

Pokemon Go is sweeping through the Triad.

The new app, “Pokemon Go,” has become a worldwide phenomenon in less than a week.

The franchise began 20 years ago with just a pair of video games, Pokemon Red and Blue, for the original Game Boy. Today Pokemon spans video games, trading card games, anime, movies, comic books and toys.
However the new app brings a huge fresh population of fans. With the free and mobile aspects of the game, it’s accessible to anyone with a cellphone.
Similar to the show and console games, the goal in “Pokemon Go” is to catch, hatch, raise, and battle virtual creatures called Pokemon. Users of the app can now walk around, find, catch and evolve Pokemon in the real world.
Longtime fans like Billy Leenheer are overjoyed.
“I’ve been playing it since Blue and Red came out. I always my whole life wanted there to be a way you can hatch eggs by walking, like physically walking around like you do in the game. Now I have something like that. It’s like a dream come true.”
In Greensboro, churches, campuses, public art sites, historical sites, and various businesses have become Pokestops and/or gyms. The Pokestops are marked locations where “Pokemon Go” users can collect virtual items to help them catch Pokemon. The gyms are places for Pokemon battles where player teams can compete to take the spot as their territory.
Fifth grade teacher Andrea Mason said that if not for “Pokemon Go” she would still be in bed.
“This is like the first time I’ve come out all summer,” she said. “I like to go downtown to catch Pokemon, go to my alma mater UNCG, and right now Guilford College is my favorite place because they have free wifi.”
The app’s competitive edge comes from the teams. There are three teams called Instinct, Mystic and Valor. All players have chosen teams for different reasons. Mason picked Mystic because she liked the Pokemon mascot, Articuno, and the blue team color. Guilford student, Rebacca Allen, picked Valor because all her friends were Valor.
Leenheer picked Instinct for the lore.
“Team Instinct is aligned to why Pokemon hatch eggs and Valor is about getting them stronger and Mystic is about getting them to evolve,” he said.
The popularity of “Pokemon Go” stems a lot from the physical and social aspects getting mixed in with a video game system. With this combination, many people are finding reasons to walk around outside instead of stay indoors.
“I just love it,” said Leenheer. “Everything about it is amazing. I always liked the backstories. I love the lore and the eggs. Just meeting random people on the street and helping them. All morning I’ve walked around with random people I’ve never met before playing ‘Pokemon Go’ at different occasions.

“A girl I’ve been talking to earlier said ‘I’ve been trying to get myself to jog for a really long time and now that ‘Pokemon Go’ came out, I’m actually jogging every day.’ That’s so cool. It’s for the Pokemon thing but you’re also doing something you’ve wanted to do.”
Businesses like Geeksboro Coffee and Beverage Company have celebrated their store becoming a Pokestop by creating Pokemon sodas for fans to enjoy.
Other places are not as happy with the Pokestops as they cause many strangers to gather in places like graveyards and churches. Safety issues have also been a concern. Greensboro police have issued a warning for the Pokemon fans to be careful and stay safe in their explorations.
“I definitely advise going to places during the daytime or at nighttime with friends and not to drive and play ‘Pokemon Go,'” said Mason.
The game is such a big hit that most users struggle with crowded server issues, causing their games to often freeze. The creators of “Pokemon Go” stopped their global release in order to fix the server issues. In the future, they plan to release a way for players to trade Pokemon.
“It was something I played when I was a little kid and I never stopped playing it,” Mason said. “So this game has actually been quite enjoyable. My favorite thing about Pokemon is being able to level up your Pokemon and see them evolve. I think that’s just the coolest thing ever.
“My highlight has probably been meeting new people. I don’t go outside a whole lot during the summer and this game actually got me going outside and meeting new people. It’s fun.”