July 12, 2016 - 9:50 AM
KAMLOOPS - If someone is lurking around your yard or walking vacantly down the street staring at a cell phone, relax; they might just be playing video games.
The worldwide phenomenon Pokemon Go has made its way into Canada, even though it hasn’t officially been released here.
B.C.’s interior is part of the trend with players wandering the streets of Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon in search of digital creatures (Pokemon stands for pocket monsters) using their phones. The game uses a smartphone’s GPS and camera to place the Pokemon in real world locations, so players have to go to a location to capture the creature.
While some areas are hotspots, the creatures seem to be showing up everywhere. Worldwide they’ve appeared in police stations and intersections. One woman was led into a river where she found a body. Closer to home, they’ve shown up inside at least one person’s house in Kelowna, and on social media users are reporting finding lots wandering around neighbourhoods in Kamloops and Kelowna.
The game has had positive reviews, but there are some criticisms. Fans point out it’s a great way to interact with the outdoors and get some exercise, two issues video games have struggled with for decades. The flip side is that people aren’t always prepared for where the game may take them, and injuries associated with the game are being reported as players chase Pokemon into ditches or off sidewalks.
Also, police in Missouri have reported that teens used the game to use players to locations to rob them.
Facebook groups have already been made for players in Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton, while in Kelowna, multiple groups and teams have been formed.
In Kamloops, one user on Reddit says he’s been playing while walking his children writing that he found Pokemon just walking around Schubert Avenue. Another user noted Pioneer Park and Riverside Park seemed a popular destination. In Kelowna real world meet ups are being planned online as well.
Some players in Kelowna are looking forward to the exercise; one player walked 32 km in one day's search, he wrote on Facebook. The popularity is leading to the formation of teams in Kelowna as well, via social media, while one Penticton player has created a shareable spreadsheet to track Pokemon movements.
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