The fascination with the Pokemon Go game shows no sign of stopping and the fun is being had by all ages. Individuals can be seen all around Shepherdstown, as well as practically any area, with their eyes focused on the hand-held screen as the player searches for new Pokemon to capture.
Much to the chagrin of some folks, those playing often lose track of where they are walking (as the game must be played while moving at a slow speed) and step into traffic or bump into others on the sidewalks.
The game, a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed and published by Niantic for iOS and Android devices, has players using their cell phone’s GPS capability to locate, capture, battle and train virtual creatures, called Pokemon, who appear on the screen.
To begin play, one must create an account that allows each player to customize their “avatar” by selecting hair color, eye color and the like. Once created, the avatar appears on the telephone screen which displays a map of the player’s location. As the player walks, the avatar walks.
What is a unique feature to the game is that the map can be seen in one of two ways: as a drawing based map or in real time using the cell phone camera.
However one views the geographic area, the goal is to find Pokemon. They appear as one walks and can be captured by using a Poke ball. At first, learning exactly how to capture with the ball is a bit daunting, but once one figures out how to throw it and hit the Pokemon while it is surrounded by the green circle, the fun begins.
Factors in the success rate of capture include the right force, the right time and the type of Poke Ball used. After capturing a wild Pokemon, the player is awarded two types of in-game currencies: candies and stardust. The candies awarded by a successful catch depend on what evolutionary chain a Pokemon belongs to. A player can use stardust and candies to raise a Pokemon’s “combat power” (CP). However, only candies are needed to evolve a Pokemon.
Features on the map include PokeStops and Pokemon gyms. PokeStops provide players with items, such as eggs, Poke Balls and potions and can be equipped with items called lures, which attract wild Pokemon.
Gyms serve as battle locations for team-based king of the hill matches. These are typically located at places of interest and can be found throughout Shepherdstown. Gyms tend to gear toward one of the three colors of teams-one selects a team after reaching a certain level. The three to choose from are Red, Blue or Yellow and each have different names.
While the game sounds confusing to one who has know Pokemon knowledge, those who have been fans of the cartoon creatures are thrilled with the new game.
Jeremy Mayer, a member of Shepherdstown Fire Department, has collected Pokemon cards since he was little.
“One day they’ll be worth money,” he laughed.
He enjoys the interactive game that allows him to search for his favorite characters no matter where he goes. On a recent visit to Washington, D.C., Mayer said he caught a lot that he didn’t have.
Mayer said he went to Washington to visit his older brother, who oftentimes he doesn’t have a lot in common with. But now, they both play Pokmon Go.
“It is something we can do together,” Mayer said, despite the difference in their ages.
CJ McNutt, of Ranson, also has fun playing the game.
“You can play with a lot of people,” he said. “You don’t have to know them.”
Add to the challenges of catching Pokemon and gaining items, the necessity to be moving while playing the game.
Advocates of the game tout the exercise-inducing activity and say that playing the game gets children and adults moving.
According to the Wikipedia entry on the game, each Pokmon evolution tree has its own type of candy, which can only be used to evolve or level up. The player can also transfer the Pokemon back to the Pokemon professor to earn one more candy and create room for more Pokmon. The ultimate goal of the game is to complete the entries in the Pokedex, a comprehensive Pokemon encyclopedia, by capturing and evolving to obtain the original 151 Pokemon.
For those who wish to give the game a try, it can be downloaded via the App Store; however, the app became so poplar so quickly that it jammed the loading of the game for many. Signing up to play through Google seems to be the opportune way to get into the game.
“As long as you pay attention as you go around and use common sense, it’s a great game to play,” said Ellie Lipsit as she stood near McMurran Hall, the site of a Poke stop.