Pokémon Go is a free game, it's existed for less than a week, and it's about to surpass Twitter in daily active users on Android. Whoa. I live on one end of Cal Anderson Park and work on the other, and all weekend long, a cluster of loiterers was camped out in this particular part of Cal Anderson Park, above. There were other people scattered throughout Cal Anderson looking happily into their phones all weekend, too, but nothing like that cluster along the sidewalk where 11th meets Olive.
As a 75-year-old man trapped in a 35-year-old body, I had no idea what these people in Cal Anderson Park were doing when I passed by on Friday, but I figured it was related to whatever Pokémon thing everyone was talking about on the internet. On Saturday, walking through the park again, I saw one woman spinning her finger in a circle around a button on her phone, and another woman excitedly looking into her phone going, "Ooooh!"
I walked up to a cluster of folks and said: "Can I ask you a stupid question?"
"We're playing Pokémon Go," two or three people said in unison. Then they looked up at me.
"I noticed there are a lot of people in this one particular part of the park," I ventured.
"It's a hotspot for sure," a guy with awesome facial hair said.
"What do you mean 'a hotspot'?" I asked.
It was explained to me that there were currently three "lures" in this part of the park, and that lures attract Pokémon—the word refers to a wide range of imaginary creatures that the object of the game is to catch—so everyone was sitting there, together, yet in other ways alone, catching Pokémon, as many Pokémon as they could catch. All day long, sitting, standing, catching Pokémon.
"Does anything happen when you catch a lot of Pokémon?" I asked the guy with awesome facial hair and the two people next to him, a woman and a man.
"There's no point to it. There's really no point to it."
Then the guy with the excellent facial hair added that there had been "like 100 people here last night"—meaning Saturday night. A hundred Seattleites on Saturday night standing at this one place in the park collecting imaginary friends.
"Maybe even more tonight," said the woman, referring to the fact that it was Sunday and many people had to work in the morning and "people need something to do sober" so maybe even more than 100 would show up. I didn't go back to check.
It's impossible to imagine just how many spots like this there are around the country.
As Vox reports, there have already been "stories of people hunting down Pokémon on their office desks, in hospital rooms, and even in bathrooms. One teenage girl even found a dead body while looking for Pokémon. And police in Missouri claimed that four suspected robbers lured in victims with the possibility of Pokémon."
Here is an article titled "These are the worst places to play Pokémon Go."
Somehow Club Z is missing from that article. As you may have seen on Reddit, someone made Club Z a place you can "level up and get pokeballs."
There is a lot of poking that goes on at Club Z, and balls are involved, but unlike in Pokémon Go, the balls at Club Z produce sperm that's discharged into the orifices of strangers. Different game.
Still not fully sure I understood the craze, I just interviewed someone who did nothing but play Pokemon Go all weekend. This conversation happened over text mere moments ago.
Hey have you been playing Pokemon Go?
Hell ya I'm a poke master already.
What is a poke master? Is that a real term or are those your words?
That is a real term from Pokémon but I'm not sure it's actually relevant to the game. You're a Pokémon trainer in the game. Pokémon master is like a really good Pokémon trainer and when you CATCH EM ALL—that's the phrase, "gotta catch em all"—you level up in the game from experience points. You get points from catching Pokémon, going to poke stops where you collect poke balls (you need those to catch the Pokémon) but also you evolve and level up your Pokémon so they get stronger. You then go to Pokémon gyms and you use your Pokémon to fight other people's Pokémon so you can take over the gym. If you get to a gym and it's already claimed by your team it's called a friendly gym and you battle to level up the gym to make it stronger. If it's another team you battle to bring it down and take over it. The more people on your team battling an opponent's team at the same time the easier it is.
Ahhhhhh, thank you, I was confused about this gym business.
So in this version of the game you choose a team to be on: blue, red, or yellow. They have names but I only remember my team blue which is the mystic team.
What do you think of people getting poke balls at Club Z? Do you think Club Z is a good place to get poke balls?
Haha I saw that. It's a little weird. No I don't think kids should be standing outside Club Z getting poke balls.
How many gyms are there? There were so many people standing around one spot at Cal Anderson Park over the weekend—was that a gym? What other hotspots like that place in Cal Anderson do you know of?
There's one at Ada's Books on 15th, the Black Hole Sun sculpture at Volunteer Park, Viva Apartments adjacent from Pony. I'm in Madrona right now and some gyms I can see are a community garden on MLK and Union and a church a few blocks away called St. Therese. A lot of stops can be graffiti or interesting public art.
Can you give me an example?
I think this one was funny, near the Factory. The description. "In fashionable glasses."
Is a "stop" different than a "lure"?
A poke stop is where you get poke balls and other items like potions that heal your Pokémon after battle. A lure module works for 30 minutes and it works for everyone playing the game in that area. You can plug a lure module into a poke stop and then it attracts more Pokémon.
Pretty informative interview! Wouldn't you say?
What else do you want to know? I'm an expert now! Are people playing this in Canada, too? I asked a friend who lives in Vancouver and he said, "No because it's not officially released here." (It's only been officially released in the US, New Zealand, and Australia.) My friend in Vancouver added, "You have to do something weird to your phone to make it work so I'm thinking not as many people have it. Even still though there are lots of people playing."
I asked a few nerdy coworkers about their experiences so far and one said that the Trader Joe's up the street from the office is a gym.
Another said: "There are gyms all over the place. I was in Southcenter last night and there were tons of gyms by the mall. I caught a Pidgeotto at Target!"
Another said: "Thursday night I saw signature gatherers congregating at a Poké Stop in Cal Anderson that someone had activated a lure module on. Not sure whether they were responsible for the module or whether they were just taking advantage of it, but it seemed to be working for them—they had a decent crowd."
Another said she saw lots of people playing on Lower Queen Anne, and added that at another point over the weekend she saw "people walking around U Village slowly and looking at their phones. Families strung out down the sidewalk waiting for their teenager to catch up while the younger brother orbits him like an excitable satellite."
The game's so popular many would-be players couldn't even get on all weekend. One coworker said, "I finally got access, met Professor Willow (cartoon swoon), picked out a cute outfit for my avatar (the first stage of gameplay), and got my first Pokémon, a Charmander. When I realized I’d have to walk two blocks to get to the nearest wild Pokémon to catch, I put the phone down."