Who would have thought that a video game would help thousands of people get outside and explore? The latest gaming fad is getting players off their couches and into the real world to catch Pokémon, anytime and anywhere.
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game based on the classic Nintendo franchise and TV show. Only this time, gamers can catch Pokémon in the real world augmented with your camera and GPS device. It's like the high tech version of geo-caching. Just like Ash, the goal is to “catch ‘em all” by traveling through cities and around the world to create a rolodex of creatures to battle against other players. Reports are streaming in of Jigglypuffs outside the Washington Monument and Evees inside homes. People have been catching them at the office, in museums, atop tourist attractions, and even in hospital rooms.
Read on for some of our favorite spots to hunt Pokémon:
At the Zoo
The game uses your phone’s GPS and clock to pinpoint where you are in the real world. If there are Pokémon in the vicinity, you'll get a quick vibration to notify you to look alive. Just like in the real animal kingdom, there are dozens of different species of Pokémon that need to be captured and trained. But collecting them is just phase one. To really become a Pokémon master once you reach level five, you'll be able to select one of three global teams to play for (red, blue or yellow), to power up and prepare your Pokémon for gym battles. "Gyms" are various locations designated around town where battles take place.
In the Middle of the
As most players will tell you, you’ll do a lot of moving playing this game. The game pushes you to explore different environments to find different styles of Pokémon like rodents and birds. For example, if you go near a lake, river, or, heck, even an ocean, you’re likely to find more water types. For the record, it’s probably not necessary to kayak into the middle of the ocean to find them, but it’s definitely more fun that way. You can also incubate new Pokémon by walking between 2-5 km per egg.
The White House and the Pentagon
As stated, players can battle Pokémon against one another at gyms. Most gyms are churches, bars, parks, or city gathering places, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Washington, D.C. It didn’t take long for gamers to discover the White House and the Pentagon were each designated gyms. Gamers have been swarming the grounds in an effort to take control of the government buildings, if only for a short while. Rebellion, anyone? Some Reddit users have cheekily pointed out the gym in the middle of the White House could be a result of Vice President Joe Biden playing against the Obama girls.
Across National Parks
The best strategy to uncover new Pokémon and Poké Stops is to cover as much ground as possible, which have shown up in some pretty unexpected places. Park rangers at the National Mall are making headlines for offering to help visitors capture the little monsters in exchange for a quick history lesson about the place they're wandering through. Honestly, we wouldn’t complain if we happened to find a Pokémon during a hike at one of these national parks or monuments.
Next to You on the
It seems the creators have a sense of humor. Dozens of rat Pokémon have been spotted at the subway stations, especially in New York City and Chicago. Something tells us they’re a little better received than their animal counterparts. They are also popping up unexpectedly in people's homes (who are getting fun knock on the door at 3 a.m.) and restaurants around town, who are not too appreciative of non-paying customers.
Pokémon was a 90s phenomenon that resulted in playing cards, television shows, movies, and, of course, video games. As a result, the new version of the game is giving users (many of whom are adults now) a bit of childhood nostalgia. Unsurprisingly, some of the most popular destinations have been in and around college campuses. So much so, that some places, like University of Glasgow in Scotland, have begun offering Pokémon Go-based tours. There are also mee-tups, bar crawls, and other Pokémon-themed events popping up around the world.
Since its limited release to three countries on July 5, the game has already been a smash hit. The free app is seeing a surge in downloads every day; already on target to surpass Tinder as one of the most downloaded apps for both Apple and Android users. Pending a few bug and server fixes, the game will soon be launched across Europe, in Canada, and to parts of Asia. We can't wait to see where it'll take travelers and gamers to next. The Taj Mahal? The Great Wall? Send us your best screenshots.