July 21, 2016 - 3:30 PM
KELOWNA – Pokémon Go has only been officially released for less than a week, but businesses across Kelowna are already finding ways to take advantage of the phenomenon.
For those that don’t already know, Pokémon Go is a smartphone app that integrates with a built in camera to display digital characters that can be caught, trained and fought.
The official Canadian version was only released on Sunday, but some players have been playing slightly longer thanks to a bootleg version making the rounds.
Megan Reid, 32, has been playing since it first became available a few weeks ago and says the shocking popularity gave her the idea to integrate it into her work at Kelowna’s Centre for Arts and Technology. On Thursday evening they are hosting a Pokemon Go Meetup and are even giving out Pokémon survival bags to the first five trainers who show up. The bag contains useful items like sunscreen and a backup phone battery.
“Staff members have found tons of Pokémons around the Landmark buildings,” she says. “I hunt Pokémon when I’m on my lunch break so we looked into making the school into a gym.”
A gym is a static place where players can exercise their characters to make them stronger.
“We looked into it but due to the sheer volume (the game developers) aren't taking new submissions right now,” she says. “That is our plan though.”
In the meantime the school is testing out the idea of combining an open house with a group hunt.
“I’m going to try and keep it not super long, maybe 30 to 45 minutes depending on how engaged they are,” she says. “It’s the first time we’ve done this so it may be a complete free for all but it’s appealing to our student demographic. We have a cool facility so I’m hoping it will be entertaining enough that people will give me at least 50 per cent of their attention.”
Other businesses are taking advantage of the games popularity as well. Dakoda’s Comedy Lounge is holding a night of Pokémon jokes tonight, July 21, and St. Michael’s Kelowna church is advertising their parking lot as a gym.
Businesses in Kamloops, Penticton and Vernon are also incorporating Pokémon into their advertising.
“It may be like any fad and fade off and die or it could stand the test of time,” Reid says. “Even if one or two people get jazzed about something they see at our school that’s a win for me.”
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