I make no bones about the fact that I am a nerd. I love “The Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones,” Star Trek and Star Wars, “Venture Brothers” and “Rick and Morty,” Harry Potter and The Dark Tower, I’ve seen every single Marvel movie in the theater, and the only reason I don’t play more video games is because I get addicted, and I’d like to be able to have a social life. So yesterday I of course downloaded the Pokemon GO app to my phone, which launched on July 6 after months of anticipation.
Pokemon, for those that don’t know or don’t care, are fictional creatures that originated in an animated Japanese TV series and card game. Pokemon trainers “catch” Pokemon and train them to fight. There are stories that have been constructed around it, but essentially, that’s the gist of the whole thing.The most well-known Pokemon is, of course, your cuddly l’il pal Pikachu, but there are plenty of others, like Charmander, Jigglypuff, Psyduck and hundreds more. My favorite Pokemon memory? Watching the original cartoon series after school with my friend Chris. We were 15 years old at the time. Is that too old to enjoy such a thing? No, it’s not. I turn 34 in two weeks, and I’m currently using Pokemon GO. Lighten up, people.
Pokemon GO has been in the works for nearly four years. Though I am no expert in the world of app development, as far as I can tell it uses Google Maps to create a real-world map of your surroundings, and generates Pokemon in various and often seemingly random locations that a player can literally “catch” with their phone by throwing a Pokeball at them. There are also places called Pokestops, where you can collect more Pokeballs and other gifts; these are generated through the Google app Ingress, which places markers on various user-generated landmarks.
Of course, I spent most of Thursday afternoon wandering around downtown Bangor, collecting Pokemon. In order to do this, you walk around with your phone in front of you, viewing in real time a map of your surroundings. Pokemon pop up on the map, and when your avatar approaches that rascally little creature you can click on it and get ready to throw your Pokeball and catch. Before you start throwing, you can optionally get a screenshot of the Pokemon in question, against the real-life background. It’s awesome.
Here are all the places in downtown Bangor that yesterday and this morning I found Pokemon. Go ahead. Scoff at me. If you download this app, I promise: you too will become addicted. In the vaunted words of the original series theme song: gotta catch ’em all.
This first one I caught was Clefairy, floating around outside the Bangor Daily offices on Broad Street, near Pickering Square.
Then, as I continued down the street, I found a Magikarp flopping about in the Kenduskeag. Logical place for a fish to be.
At this point, I ran into both the first training gym I found in downtown — where you can train your Pokemon to level up for eventual battle — as well as the first people I’d at that point seen in downtown chasing Pokemon. She, Kathleen, had to work in the morning, but as soon as she was out of work she went out hunting with her husband, Scott.
It’s also worth noting that after I met this nice couple I stopped into the University of Maine Museum of Art, to see if there were any Pokemon running around amidst the latest gallery show. No Pokemon to be found, sadly, but when I explained to curator and director George Kinghorn what Pokemon are, and then what Pokemon GO is, he was dismayed that there weren’t any Pokemon running around at the museum. Even if you don’t have the first clue about Pokemon, you probably want to have a Pokemon at your business or organization. It can only help.
Anyway, back to the Pokemon. Here’s a Bulbasaur on Main Street, across from the Discovery Museum.
At this point, the server crashed and stayed crashed for me for quite a while, so I went back to the BDN office and did some actual work. When I managed to reload, I found a Shellder at my desk! John, Sarah, Aislinn and Sarah were all amazed!
I also found a Jynx loitering outside our building’s entrance. Nick McCrea tried to stop him/her/whatever, but Jynx is a wily bugger and eluded my attempts at Pokeball capture.
Nick McCrea, also a Pokemon hunter, found this Venonat just outside our office…
… and a Nidoran in the parking garage.
At this point I had to leave and go home because it was getting super late and I had to stop. I was very sad to see that there were no Pokemon inside my house. Why? Am I not good enough for you? Sheesh. There were Pokemon near my house this morning, however. I found a Pidgey by the Baptist church on Center Street!
Just a few feet past that, I found a Zubat at City Hall, fluttering around behind an electrical box. This jerk made me use up all my Pokeballs in trying to capture him. Fortunately, there were Pokestops at both City Hall, the City Hall bell, and at Pierce Memorial.
There was also Rhyhorn at the Bangor Public Library! Probably seeing if there were any books or movies featuring his all-time favorite fictional character, Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
At this point I ran into another Pokemon GO, player: Ethan, who explained to me how the Gyms work, so when I hit Level 5 (probably today) I can actually use them. Ethan, who I sadly did not get a picture of, actually came up to me, as I was wandering around looking at my phone, and asked me if I was playing. Apparently, there’s already a specific look that Pokemon GO players have when out hunting — face down, phone out, fairly oblivious to the world around them (unless there’s a Pokemon).
Across the street from the library, in the Abbott Square parking lot, I found a Drowzee.
I also found a Pokestop outside Friar’s Bakehouse on Central Street, which is ironic, considering our beloved Brothers’ longstanding no cell phone policy; nevertheless, they seemed pleased when I told them. Maybe all these Pokestops will help people understand a little bit more about their communities?
There’s a lot of nice things about Pokemon GO, when you think about it. On the one hand, the fact that the game gets people off their butts and into the world, walking around, is a good thing. On the other hand, the game clearly lends itself to some rather distracted walking — if you’re wandering around looking at your phone, it’s conceivable you could walk into traffic or off a curb or even off a bridge, as a Washington Post story wrote mentioned yesterday. And on the other hand (if you have three hands), it’s really fun and silly and catnip for anyone in their mid-30s or younger who grew up with Pokemon.
So, now we have to ask: where are you finding Pokemon? They’re everywhere, apparently; Travis, the BDN’s IT director, found Pokemon near his house in rural Somerset County. John Holyoke’s stepson found some in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Bangor. Micky Bedell, the BDN’s photo editor, has a friend that found a Goldeen at the Lincolnville Ferry Terminal.
Share your photos here! There are, at last count, at least seven BDN employees using Pokemon GO, so we’re ready to share and collect and — once we all reach level 5 — train and FIGHT!