Pokémon No: Why Are People Stumbling Around Saying Words Like "Squirtle" and Falling Down Open Manholes? | Arts
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pokémon No: Why Are People Stumbling Around Saying Words Like "Squirtle" and Falling Down Open Manholes?

Posted by and on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge poke.jpg

If the words “Gotta catch ’em all!” mean something to you, then the world outside your bedroom has become a little more exciting.

The free augmented-reality mobile game Pokémon Go is fulfilling childhood fantasies of becoming a Pokémon master, as people are venturing out in the world attempting to capture all the Pokémon. Android and iOS users are searching for spawned Pokémon in any place imaginable: gas stations, hospital rooms, strip clubs, and, to the chagrin of some, churches and graveyards. They’re everywhere, including all over the Triangle.

Local Pokémon trainers are in a Pokémon trance in their search for Piplups and Charizards, whether that entails entering businesses with no intention of buying anything, trespassing on private property, or exploring places they’ve never been before. Durham is dotted with multiple Pokéstops, including shops, landmarks, and other attractions throughout the city.

Here’s how it works: you simply create an avatar and start walking. Your phone’s GPS then detects your location and tracks your movement. While on the hunt, if you encounter a Pokémon—digitally inserted into your mobile device’s view of the real world—you aim your phone camera and throw a virtual Poké Ball to capture it. Once captured, the Pokémon transfers to your Pokédex—a log of sorts. The number and rarity of Pokémon you catch determines your progress through the game.

In response to the game’s soaring popularity, Durham Bulls Athletic Park opened on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. while the team was out of town, enabling those aspiring Pokémon trainers to freely roam the park without restriction (after paying a five-dollar fee, of course, with the proceeds going to charity).

But while the new app probably had many intentions, like making millennials go outside or driving up Pokémon stock by 33 percent, people across the nation are also using it to celebrate the birth of a child, share nude selfies, return lost cows to their owners, and discover hidden corpses.

Seriously—a woman in Wyoming made national headlines when she uncovered the body of a man next to a river in the woods, discovered while she was trying to catch ‘em all. A man went viral when he screenshotted himself catching a Pokémon beside his wife’s hospital bed while she was giving birth to their child.

We had never seen Pokémon, played Pokémon, or contributed in any way to Pokémon culture until we were instructed to download the app and write about it. We opened it and immediately the servers were down, which we knew could happen.

So we tried again and went walking—in our opinion, way too much of that involved—and we found our motions were being mimicked by other young’uns behind and in front of us, stopping in the same places we stopped. We were a bit more discreet about what we were doing, but that was only because we were clueless and, somehow, really bad at the game—we guess we weren't throwing the Pokéballs right?

Anyway, our phones are almost dead at this point, so portable Pokéchargers might be something Apple users who plan on embarking on such adventures might want to invest in. At least make sure you've got a full charge before heading to any of the Triangle's meet-ups this week, such as this one at the Raleigh Convention Center Saturday. We'd say we'll see you there, but we really won't.

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