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Adam Bostan of Birmingham, England, Gaby Villegas Monterrey of Nuevo Leon, 21, Andrew Alviar of Fort Worth, 27, and Hector Flores of McAllen, 22, gather to collect Pokemon.
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Gaby Villegas Monterrey shows off one of her captured Pokemon.
Growing up, all the kids in the neighborhood had one goal in mind -- to become the best Pokémon trainer there ever was. We would always dream of departing our hometown and traveling around the world in search for fictional characters, just like in the animated series we grew up watching.
Throughout the years, Pokémon games have tried to physically engage their players into exploring what’s beyond the small screen of a handheld gaming system. Early interactions happened with cables connecting one system to another. Pokémon Go is the newest app trend taking the world by storm. Released on July 6, the app has downloaded over 5 Million times, including thousands of players in the RGV – everyone from the now-adults who grew up playing Pokémon on Game Boy to young kids.
The game is pretty straightforward: You walk around your community in search for these “pocket monsters.” The smartphone camera acts as a bridge between the real world and the virtual one. The players are given virtual “Pokéballs” to capture the monsters. All you have to do is aim correctly and swipe away. The goal of the game is to catch them all. There are more than 140 Pokémon available to catch.
In contrast to the older games, Pokémon Go! encourages players to walk around the neighborhood and beyond to catch the different types of Pokémon – many of which can only be found in certain regions. Gamers also go to checkpoints called “Poké-stops” where they can obtain virtual items necessary to capture or heal their Pokémon’s. Because these checkpoints or Poké-stops are often located at or near churches, historical landmarks, monuments or local murals, playing the game can also provide an insight to the history of our region.
As an avid Pokémon fan myself, I downloaded the game as soon as it became available. The same night, I decided to go for my normal jog around the block when I noticed a lot of people walking around the streets with their eyes directed at the screen. Playing video games and at the same time getting physical activity? Sign me up for that.
Although Pokémon Go is encouraging people to get out and explore the neighborhood, there is a down side to this. Safety while crossing streets or using your phone while driving is a growing concern as people are often hooked on their screens they tend to neglect the environment around them. There have also been instances in other cities in which criminals have targeted Poké-stops in order to rob those playing the game. When going out on your journey to play Pokémon Go, it’s best (and more fun) to go in groups, especially if you play at night. It’s also important to pay attention when crossing streets or walking into unknown territories. There’s a whole new Pokémon world out there waiting to be explored, but it still pays to be street smart.
By Eric Ortiz