Anime pocketmonsters entice children to explore
Everyone who has access to the Internet or a television has heard about the latest cell phone app game craze — Pokémon Go.
I was first introduced to the game when I noticed that my teenage sons would disappear for hours at a time during the day. When I confronted them about it, they said, “We’re catching Pokémon, Mom.”
I told them not to get smart with me and I knew they were up to no good. Turned out they were catching the anime cartoon characters.
Released Wednesday, July 6, the two downloaded the application onto their smartphones, started walking through the streets of Fredericksburg in search of critters and haven’t stopped since, just like millions of other people in the United States.
“The company estimates Pokémon Go became the most popular game in the U.S. this year within 24 hours, and with about 21 million daily active users at its peak, topped Candy Crush Saga, which launched in 2013, to become the most popular game in history,” according to Fortune Magazine.
The app hit Fredericksburg full force as well. Again, my teenage sons clued me into the fact that hundreds of people in town were playing the game. Drive by Marktplatz at 10 p.m. to see young and old meandering through the square, eyes glued to their phones searching for the cute creatures.
It took me less than one minute from when I hit Main Street to bump into local teenagers playing the game.
Parker Tran and Brendon Huynh, who attend Fredericksburg High School, were walking in search of Pokémon at 3:30 p.m. last Wednesday in 95 degree heat. Both teenagers said their being outdoors wasn’t the norm but they had to catch Pokémon.
“I like that it gets us outside and we get to meet people,” said Parker, who was on day three of playing the game.
Brendon said he had downloaded the game the day before and seemed embarrassed that he had three Pokémon to show for his efforts. Parker had captured 70.
The stores on Main Street are benefitting from the recent craze, too.
“Just this morning I’ve seen 10 people in here shopping and catching Pokémon,” said Shawn Trahan, assistant manager at Rustlin’ Rob’s Texas Gourmet Foods on Main Street. He said he plays the game every chance he gets, but not at work. “I think it’d be kind of ideal, when you’re shopping on Main Street to play because you gotta walk around and play.”
Dylan Ottmers, who was shopping at the store with his wife, Erin Davis, and one-month-old, Kodi Davis-Ottmers, said, he can’t wait to get his phone turned on so he can join the nation in playing the game.
“I’ve been waiting for this game since I was born,” he said. “I’m 18. I was born in ’97 during the Pokémon era. I used to play the special Pikachu edition when I was a kid on a Game Boy Color.”
Pokémon, which is pronounced poh-kee-mon, is a franchise created by a Japanese game designer named Satoshi Tajiri in 1995. In the world he created, humans are known as Pokémon Trainers and they catch and train Pokémon to battle each other for sport.
When it was first created, the universe consisted of video games created for Nintendo and its popularity with children Dylan’s age propelled it into an animated television show, comics, toys, movies and trading cards.
Like its characters, the game has evolved. Pokémon has traded in the Game Boy for a smartphone, and now, Pokémon Go is enticing teenagers to explore the outdoors using a GPS and an algorithm by Niantic Labs.
I’m hooked, too. It’s not the ’90s nostalgia, the geocaching aspect or the treasure hunting thrill that caught me. It’s the fact that my teenage sons and I are having entire conversations together. I may not fully understand what I’m saying, but that’s never stopped me from talking before.