Township Not Immune To Pokemon Go Craze

Pokemon Go Kids - 2

Stephen Miller, left and John Cabarcas stationed in the municipal building’s parking lot searching for Pokèmon.

If you drove past the municipal building’s parking lot on DeMott Lane late in the evening of July 12, you would have seen about 10 cars parked there, their occupants’ faces bathed in the blue light of cell phones.

These weren’t people who had attended the just-ended Township Council meeting and were checking up on emails they missed. These were people on a mission.

To find … things that don’t exist.

The township is not immune to the Pokemon Go craze; all over the township, players can be seen walking while staring at their phones, stopping, and then walking again.

They’re on the hunt for Pokemon characters, 151 cartoon characters of varying strength and abilities first dreamed up in the 1990s by a Japanese insect collector who wanted to help that generation’s youth experience the joy of catching things.

Basically, the game uses the GPS capabilities of Android and iPhones to lead players on routes to “PokeStops, places where players can pick up needed supplies to capture the Pokemon characters. The characters – which appear in what the game calls “augmented reality” on the player’s screens – are captured by flicking red and white balls at them.

There are also places called Gyms, where battles ensue and victors claim the Gyms for their team.

(Need to know more? Check out the Pokemon Go web site).

Which brings us back to the municipal complex. Apparently, there are seven PokeStops and one Gym located in the complex.

That’s what brought township residents John Cabarcas, 17, and his friend, Stephen Miller, 14, to the parking lot on July 13.

The spot in which they were sitting, right at the lot’s entrance, is a Gym, Cabarcas said.

PokeStops are located throughout the complex, he said, including the township library and the U.S. Coast Guard memorial in the Veterans Memorial Garden.

Cabarcas said he’s been playing the original Pokemon video game since he was 6 years old, so the outdoor version was just a natural progression.

“It actually gets me out of the house instead of playing video games inside,” he said.

Many players have said playing the game has forced them to do something they don’t often do: exercise. Cabarcas consulted his game console (it tracks how far you’ve walked) and happily reported that he’s walked 21.3 kilometers (13.2 miles) since he started playing on July 7.

Miller said he started playing because of his friend Cabarcas, adding that he’s been a lifelong Pokemon player.

“My first game was probably Pokemon,” he said. Of the new version, Miller said, “It’s just fun, a way to get out of the house.”

The game has no ending. You just keep catching Pokemon, gaining new “levels,” and battling it out to own Gyms.

Both teens said they play the game pretty much all day now, which is fine for summer vacation. But what about when school resumes? (Cabarcas will be a senior and Miller a freshman at Franklin High School in September).

“Keep catching them all,” Cabarcas said, quoting the game’s catch-phrase.

“In, like, break periods,” he was quick to add.

When asked why one would play a game that has no end, Cabarcas shrugs and says, “For the joy it brings when you get a new Pokemon, or capture a Gym.”

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