In case anyone hasn’t noticed yet, Pokemon Go has taken Sarnia by storm.
And what’s surprising about the augmented-reality game is it’s getting people outside and into the community.
“I’ve met a lot of new people,” said 21-year-old Aydan Payne as he charged his phone at City Hall, surrounded by other players clutching smartphones and enjoying the warm summer evening.
“I’m getting out of the house, getting lots of exercise and communicating with other players.”
Pokemon was popular in the late ‘90s as a game on Nintendo’s GameBoy and has since been made into comic books, action figures, movies and now a free app for download on iPhones and Android smartphones.
Holding their phones, players walk through the city using a map based on GPS data that shows them where to find nearby Pokemon and other game-related areas of interest.
“It’s bringing people together from all ages and different groups,” said Brett Dewhirst, a 21-year-old mechanical apprentice hunting for Pokemon in Canatara Park.
“Every day I’ve come out here I’ve just talked to random people I probably never would’ve talked to before. That’s one of the cool things about this, you just get to meet anybody.”
On a Facebook group dedicated to Sarnia’s Pokemon Go, players post details about meet-ups and give tips on where to find the really rare Pokemons.
The number of participants in the city is growing daily. A recent meet-up at Canatara Park boasted over 300 attendees.
“I’ve met tonnes of people,” said 27-year-old Joshua Jones of Sarnia. “I’ve met old friends that I haven’t seen in years. This is the next evolution of gaming to go.”