Preoccupied with Pokemon

Interactive game a smash hit in valley
Lydia Sovereign, 16, left, of Strasburg, and her brother Sean Voehmer, 12, play Pokemon Go on their phones Wednesday outside the former Holy Moly Donut shop at the corner of Massanutten and King streets in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily
Sean Voehmer, 12, of Strasburg, holds up his phone with the Pokemon Go game on it outside the former Holy Moly Donut shop at the corner of King and Massanutten streets in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily
Lydia Sovereign, 16, of Strasburg, holds her phone screen showing a Poke Stop located in the right center of the screen. Rich Cooley/Daily
A sign was posted on the door of Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City after hundreds of Pokemon Go players stopped there while playing the game. Courtesy photo

The words on everybody’s lips for the past few days? Pokemon Go.

The interactive mobile phone game released just last week has captured attention locally and worldwide as players venture outdoors to explore towns and landmarks in order to toss Poke Balls at animated creatures they see through their phone’s camera. Oftentimes they meet up with other players searching for the creatures.

Chris Dellinger, 23, of Edinburg, is a member of the Pokemon Go Shenco Facebook group.

“I would say it is a more active approach to Pokemon in terms of getting you outside to explore your neighborhood and meet other people … You kind of work together with other people to take over gyms, which are located throughout the area,” he said.

Players can organize teams and strategize with other players to take over Pokemon gyms. The game is different from earlier Pokemon video games because travel is in the real world, as opposed to the virtual world.

“I ended up in West Virginia trying to see what I could find up there,” Dellinger said. “I saw some people cruising around the trees near Edinburg park trying to see what they could find down by the creek. I think I might go up to the mountains and see what I can find.”

The game is also exposing a new generation to Pokemon, said Dellinger.

“Pokemon came out when I started kindergarten, and I’ve been playing ever since. You could say Pokemon has been a pretty big part of life as far as gaming goes,” he said. “I would say for the most part, the people I’ve run into know at least something about Pokemon, but there are some younger children. I see kids half my age who are actually younger than Pokemon. It’s crazy how many people have been picking it up. It’s more than I could even fathom for this area.”

Sammy Hoover, 22, of Toms Brook, is the administrator of the Pokemon Go Shenco Facebook group. He loves the interactive aspects of the game, he stated in an email Wednesday.

“The places aren’t really the interesting part as much as the people,” he stated. “The people you meet and play with are what make the game so much fun! You mostly just find yourself walking around town over and over.”

Hoover explained that Pokemon variety changes with the terrain.

“It is easier to find certain Pokemon in certain areas, like water type can be found near rivers and ponds easier and grass and bug types are found in the woods and fields. Your environment has a lot to do with what you see,” he stated.

He also said that the Facebook page has been a great way to meet like-minded people with whom to explore the game.

“The Facebook group is full of awesome people that love the game. It is a great way for people to talk about the game. The group makes it easier to meet up and help each other out. The people in the group are a really nice group of people and I encourage everyone who plays the game to join!”

Trinity Lutheran Church in Stephens City has been seeing hundreds of Pokemon Go players show up at its doors since the game randomly selected it as a stop. The Rev. Cam Keyser, in a news release, noted that the church “has chosen to ‘make lemonade’ out of what could have been lemons by welcoming hundreds in cars, on bikes and on foot in the past four days” with a sign it posted on the church’s main door. The sign reads in part: “POKEY MON may be around here someplace – we’re just not sure… But we do know that God’s Holy Spirit is here – inviting you to be part of our life and ministry…”

The game is not without its flaws. Woodstock police posted a note to players on its Facebook page Tuesday reminding them that the town curfew is 10 p.m. for anyone under 18, and that it is illegal to trespass on church, town park or school property after dark. Players are also being warned about the dangers of distracted walking and not to play Pokemon Go while driving.

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

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