GLASGOW – Drivers may have noticed a recent rise in foot traffic around the public square. Kids and adults can be seen looking around, swiping their fingers across their smartphones.
A week ago, they might have been texting or taking selfies, but now they are probably playing Pokemon Go.
Ever since its release on July 6, the app “Pokemon Go” has caused kids and adults across the country to leave the comfort of their homes and get out into their communities.
“The whole thing is trying to get kids and young adults out and walking around and not just sitting in the house playing on video game consoles,” said Caleb Hicks, who was walking around the square Monday morning playing Pokemon Go on his phone.
Hicks, 27, said he downloaded the app on Thursday, and he plays when he is not at work.
“I play it off and on, you know, pretty much when I’m moving around,” he said. “That’s when I play it ’cause it’s not a real like ‘sit still and play game.’”
In the game, players control Pokemon trainers who have the ability to catch Pokemon, fictional creatures that the players can collect, level-up and use to battle other trainers.
The app uses GPS to pinpoint a player’s location as well as the location of the Pokemon that are randomly populated into the environment.
When a player locates a Pokemon, the app uses the device’s camera to display what is in front of the player and then imposes the image of the Pokemon, so it looks as though the Pokemon is actually moving around in the real world as a player attempts to capture it.
Pokemon Go uses actual landmarks, like the Plaza Theatre, as destinations in the game called gyms and Pokestops.
“The Pokestops just give you extra Pokeballs to use to catch Pokemon,” Hicks said.
Players can join one of three teams (red, blue or yellow), and teams can control the gyms.
Hicks stood across from the Plaza Theatre, a gym in the game, and was able to gain control of it after several minutes of playing.
He said the public square is the biggest concentration of Pokestops and gyms in Glasgow, “so that’s where most of the people gather.”
“Yesterday, there were, you know, probably kids from 16 on up to adults with children of their own saying, ‘Daddy, let me play. Let me play,’” Hicks said. “It was amazing the spectrum of people that it caught. It wasn’t just teenagers and nostalgic young adults but it’s got adults in their 30s coming out here walking around because their kids wanna’ play.”
Shanna Estes, 16, walked around the square Monday morning and she was playing Pokemon Go on her phone.
“I play it periodically,” she said. “About a few times a week as long as I find some (Pokemon) nearby.
“I think it’s fun, just walking around and searching for the Pokemon.”
Estes said she likes to play Pokemon Go around the public square because it is easy to walk around, and there are usually other people playing.
“It’s pretty fun to meet new people,” she said.
Tyler Thomerson, 18, has been playing the game for two days and he said he likes reading about the historical landmarks when he passes them.
“You’re learning history walking around playing Pokemon Go and you’re getting a workout while you’re doing it, too,” he said.
Hicks said he thinks Pokemon Go is “gonna’ be a good thing and a bad thing,” adding that he thinks people might not pay attention to the traffic, especially younger players.
“So that’s my only concern really with it,” he said. “Some kid’s gonna’ be trying to catch a Pokemon while crossing the street and get hit. Most of the adults, they take care of themselves, they know ‘hey, I need to make sure when I cross the street I’m not gonna’ get ran over.’”
Thomerson said that there were about 50 people playing the game on the square Sunday night.
“In a sense, you’re still playing a game,” he said. “But you’re still getting out and walking and having a good time with your friends.”
There are 151 Pokemon in the game for players to capture.
Gotta catch ’em all.