Gotta catch’em all

A popular smart phone application game is sweeping the nation and picking up steam in Webster City. Local residents are perusing the parks, post office, community theatre, Fuller Hall, and area churches to catch as many Pokemon as possible.

Pokemon Go is a free app that can be downloaded on any smartphone. The game combines real-world elements with the Pokemon that those who grew up in the 90s know and love. The goal of Pokemon Go is to compete with friends and catch as many Pokemon as possible.

According to Vox explainer, Pokemon Go uses the smartphone’s GPS and clock to decide which Pokemon appear in the game. Vox gives examples of users finding more bug and grass Pokemon types at the park as opposed to being by a lake and finding more water Pokemon.

Sebron Bovia, 14, downloaded the game two weeks ago.

“I was bored one day, so I downloaded it,” said Bovia. “If you don’t buy stuff, you can’t do as much. You have to walk a lot to find Pokemon.”

“My friends started playing it. I wanted to be better than them, so I started playing as much as I could,” said Brady Auderer, 15. “It takes a lot of time.”

Auderer also addressed concerns the game is dangerous.

“People are getting the idea that it’s dangerous and causing car crashes and stuff,” said Auderer. “Any game can do that. People just have to be smart with what they’re doing.”

“It’s addicting,'” said Emma Groth, 12. “I’ve been wanting to play it for a few days. This is my first time playing.”

Myla Groth, age 10, noted that many of the stops in town are highly populated areas where kids tend to hangout.

Fifteen-year-old Alex Wolfgram estimates that there are eight Poke-stops in Webster City.

“My friends started to play it and they told me I should get it. So I got it,” said Wolfgram. “I got hooked. I’ve been to about all the Poke Stops.”

Wolfgram had prior interest in Pokemon, owning games for Gameboy and Nintendo DS.

“I think it’s pretty big because we’ve seen a lot of people going around town. I think the farthest we’ve gone is the post office or the park,” said Myla Groth. “We’ve gone pretty much all around.”

“I had a couple of the games and cards and stuff,” said Hank Ambrose, 14. “I like how you can explore more with this version. You can go in the woods, the water, all around town.”

Alyssa Groth, age 14, describes the game as interesting and a great way to get exercise.

“It’s addicting and actually pretty interesting,” said Alyssa Groth.

Several young people had gathered under the shade of a large tree at the First Congregational UCC Church, waiting for Pokemon to pop up Thursday afternoon. Several had already completed an average of seven “Poke-stops”. They have all spent an average of three hours a day in the past week trying to “Catch ’em all.”

Although the game is meant for entertainment, there are real life problems and cautions that go hand-in-hand with the app.

“Be aware of what’s going on around you,” said Webster City Police Chief Shiloh Mork. “It’s a game. Pay attention to what you’re doing.”

According to Mork, there have been instances across the United States in which people have been assaulted and robbed at Poke Stops. Mork cautions all players to take in their surroundings and play safely.

Mork has only had one instance of the game causing a problem in Webster City. There was a complaint of kids trespassing on private property three days ago.

“Players cannot be on private property without permission,” said Mork. “If you see people on private property don’t confront them. Call us and let us deal with the situation.”

Mork cautions all players to adhere to the law while playing the game.

“The game does not give you the right to be places where you are not allowed to be,” said Mork.

To contact the police about players trespassing on private property call the Webster City Police Station on their non-emergency line at (515) 832-9166.