WINNIPEG – One of the biggest franchises in the history of video games is taking its players…outside.
Pokemon GO has taken smartphones by storm. It will be in Canada soon, once the app is ready for a world wide release.
The basic premise of Pokemon games is for players to collect creatures known as ‘Pokemon’ and then train and battle them against fellow players. The games have a wide following and are translated into many languages, selling millions.
Typically Pokemon games are played like most video games, on a screen with a device to move your player around. Pokemon GO on the other hand brings you into the game by taking your local map and making it the setting, and using your phone and the camera to immerse the game into the real world. To move, you have to move.
That is what has made the game so interesting, the stereotypical “gamer” is heading outside, walking, running, and biking around town to participate.
“I would be home playing something instead.” Said Nick Yates, another Pokemon GO player out at the park.
After launching in the US Wednesday, Pokemon Go is currently the top-downloaded free app, and the top grossing app, in both the Apple and Android stores. It’s popularity has made it unavailable on app stores in Canada, as Americans have already overloaded the servers.
But some Canadians, and many in Winnipeg have been able to download the game. Some have found a way to make the app available on their phones.
And so far it’s been worth it for those who have it.
“It’s just a great game, you can run around go to the park and get exercise playing a game you already love.” Said Sam White, who spent his Monday on his bike with a friend, riding around Winnipeg to play.
The game is more targeted towards kids, but is equally as popular with adults, mostly because the Pokemon franchise spans across over two decades of fans. From cartoons, to clothes and trading cards, the memorabilia and new product is still all over stores today.
“We played this game 20 years ago when we were kids and now we’re out catching virtual Pokemon on our phones.” Said Cody White, part of the older generation of Pokemon fans.
Over fifty people could be seen around Assiniboine Park, all before the game is actually released in Canada.
Currently catching Pokemon at Assiniboine park, and it’s so cool to see so many people play Pokemon even though it’s yet in Canada
— PauseUnpause (@PauseUnpause) July 11, 2016
Travelling to local landmarks like the park are part of the game, offering rewards to players as well as the prospect of finding a new creature to catch. One of those landmarks is the Forks, where over 70 people could be found on Sunday, phone in hand searching for Pokemon.
In places where the game has launched the gatherings are much, much larger. Over 1,000 people gathered in Perth, Australia on the weekend for a Pokemon Go Walk. The large group worked together searching for Pokemon and trading tips for about four hours.
It’s not yet out in Canada, but those with the game already tell 680 CJOB this is only the beginning of a Pokemon craze in Winnipeg.