Hundreds come to the English Village to stare at their screens. They chase around town searching for imaginary monsters. Is Pokemon Go the next “pet rock” craze? Maybe so. But for now, the new online game, an international sensation, is generating business for local entrepreneurs.
There are “pocket monsters” lurking everywhere if you ask fans of this new pastime. Nintendo released the location-based augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go on July 6 for download in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Over the next 24 hours, the game was installed on more U.S. Android phones than the dating app Tinder. Recent estimates are that downloads of the game has surpassed 100 million worldwide.
If you’re one of the few without the game, it works by dropping its user into the Poké-verse (a neon version of your exact location, Google Maps style), where the player physically walks through the world in search of rare Pokémon creatures. The point is to capture, battle and train Pokémon. It uses GPS and camera functions to place the other-worldly creatures within our day-to-day lives – the game is designed to appear as though players are capturing these creatures in the real world.
Unlike virtually all other video games, viral sensation Pokémon Go requires its players to get outside and walk around. It has encouraged masses of players to gather in places like the National Mall and Central Park in search of adorable little monsters. Its appeal in Lake Havasu City is no different. The city has no shortage of so-called Pokestops to attract Pokemasters to come and play.
“It motivates a generation of people to get up from their desktop computers and actually walk out of their homes and into the outdoors,” says the Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Jon Slater, Communications & Brand Specialist. “It’s something for the millennial generation to share with each other. Luckily, we have no shortage of monsters for people to capture.” Based on what he’s seen and captured, he estimates that 124 of the game’s 150 Pokemon can be captured within Lake Havasu City.
Cinda Anderton, owner of Havasoap in the English Village calls it “good clean fun for everyone.” She says, “Imagine my surprise when someone told me there were monsters on my countertop. This has been like free advertising for us, especially after I offered a free $5 bar of soap to anyone who captures a monster in the store or just outside. Now, the monsters seem to multiply the more people capture them. Pokemon loves Havasoap. It has definitely introduced our store to new customers.”
Cinda continues, “I realize this could just be a fad, but I hope it doesn’t fade until well after I receive my new Pokemon molds so I can make natural goats milk soap for fans.”
Her husband, Director of Visitor Services Jan Kassies, who runs the Lake Havasu City Visitor Information Center, reports 200 to 300 people recently met to capture monsters, and he doesn’t mind a bit.
“Anything that brings people out to enjoy the English Village is a great thing,” he says.
“The fountain is running, we have trees and benches, and renovated bathrooms. Everything is painted and looking good. Plus, we have plenty of Pokemon monsters – they’re everywhere.”