PokemonGo mobile game app sweeps Tryon area, allows players to “catch them all”

for Nintendo, boosting their value by $9.3 million in the first week of release. (Photo submitted by Jen Pace Dickenson)

Even the kids and employees at the Polk County Public Library get involved and play PokemonGo, an “augmented reality” game that allows players to use their GPS and cameras to find Pokemon in their area. For Nintendo, this game has exploded in popularity, boosting the value of their stocks by $9.3 million in the first week of release. The game has a combined 15 million downloads on both major mobile app stores for the Android and iOS (iPhone) devices. (Photo submitted by Jen Pace Dickenson)

This month, a new app arrived on mobile phones that has fans of the 1990s hit animated TV show “Pokemon” obsessed with catching them all.

The app, made by the San Francisco-based software development company Niantic, is a free “augmented reality” game that allows users to catch more than 150 varieties of Pokemon around the area. For example, historical buildings have ghost-type Pokemon, parks have nature-type Pokemon and these Pokemon can be collected and trained to battle each other in gyms.

Nintendo, the makers of Pokemon and all of the subsequent TV shows and video games, saw a boost in their shares reaching more than $9 billion in the first week of downloads, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Selim Nedhi was found at Brookwood Park in Landrum Thursday afternoon playing the app where he said a “lure” had been dropped in the park. With “lures,” players are drawn to a certain area and are expected to find several Pokemon characters pop up in a 30-minute window.

 

The app utilizes the player's GPS and camera to generate Pokemon creatures to capture and train. Players create a "trainer" avatar to play the game. Selim Nedhi showed off his character Thursday afternoon at Brookwood Park. (Photo by Michael O'Hearn)

The app utilizes the player’s GPS and camera to generate Pokemon creatures to capture and train. Players create a “trainer” avatar to play the game. Selim Nedhi demonstrated a “lure” in progress  Thursday afternoon at Brookwood Park. (Photo by Michael O’Hearn)

“This is the most significant app on the market today, and the significance goes beyond that of the game because people are going outside and getting exercise to hunt these Pokemon,” Nedhi said. “I’ve never had a video game get me up to go outside and walk around. For it to be launched during the summer was genius too.”

When a player reaches level five on the app, they are given the ability to run a gym to train their collected Pokemon and battle other players. Gyms can be found all over the area, and according to player Daniel Ornelas from Inman, S.C., the Nina Simone Plaza in Tryon serves as a gym.

PokemonGo stops and gyms allow players to collect more Pokeballs for catching more Pokemon and train/evolve the Pokemon that have been captured by the player. Gyms and stops show up at random, but are said to be found at historical sites and plazas such as the St. Luke's Plaza in Tryon outside Huckleberry's Restaurant and the Tryon Coffeehouse. The Nina Simone Plaza across from Tryon Theatre serves a gym for training and battling Pokemon. (Photo by Michael O'Hearn)

PokemonGo stops and gyms allow players to collect more Pokeballs for catching more Pokemon and train/evolve the Pokemon that have been captured by the player. Gyms and stops show up at random, but are said to be found at historical sites and plazas such as the St. Luke’s Plaza in Tryon outside Huckleberry’s Restaurant and the Tryon Coffeehouse. The Nina Simone Plaza across from Tryon Theatre serves a gym for training and battling Pokemon. (Photo by Michael O’Hearn)

Since the game’s release, three teams have sprung up including Team Mystic, Team Valor and Team Instinct to pit players against one another. A fourth team, known as Team Harmony, is expected to launch in the coming weeks, according to Niantic. Evolving the Pokemon players have captured is the purpose of the gyms.

The app utilizes the user’s GPS and camera to pinpoint their location and generate Pokemon to appear in their vicinity, according to Nedhi. Users interact with the environment to collect these Pokemon and gain more Combat Power “CP” points.

“I was at Harmon Field last night and saw a group of five to six guys walking around and staring at their phones,” Nedhi said. “I knew immediately what they were doing and wanted to join in too.”

Tracey Daniels is a co-op board member and volunteer with the Tryon Coffeehouse and said her volunteer baristas have fun playing the game together.

“They are having such a blast, and even my husband Tim knows all of the stops in Tryon where they can find more Pokemon,” Daniels explained. “The lures can be found at the coffeehouse and the St. Luke’s Plaza and Tim will be experimenting this weekend with some lures.”

The theme song to the show goes “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Gotta catch ‘em all!” PokemonGo turns players into Pokemon trainers by having them catch, train and evolve their caught Pokemon characters found all over the area.

“I don’t think Nintendo or Niantic even realized how big this game would get,” Nedhi said. “I’m a 30-year-old guy with a full time job and I’m out here trying to catch Pokemon. I’m genuinely embarrassed to say that, honestly.”

The game has more than 15 million app downloads on the Google Play Store and iOS iPhone mobile app store, according to USA Today.

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