“Pokémon,” the beloved Nintendo franchise that implored youths of the ’90s and ’00s to “catch ’em all,” evolved into a more viral incarnation over the weekend.
It’s been approximately three days since the release of “Pokémon Go,” the mobile version of the 20-year-old institution that gave us Pikachu, Jigglypuff and Charmander, and the world has seen an influx of people walking around, glued to their phones.
Here in New York, things have been calmer, all things considered. The NYPD didn’t respond to questions about Pokémon-related complaints, and local players say the game has given them a new appreciation for the city.
“It’s more of a challenge because you have to physically go out and get them. Walking to the Empire State Building to catch an extremely rare Pokémon is fun,” said Amber Discko, 26, of East Williamsburg.
“Pokémon Go” players can find one of 250 creatures in specific, real-life locations using their phone’s GPS and camera, in what amounts to a virtual scavenger hunt. Users can also head to certain spots to pick up items for catching Pokémon, or “Pokémon Gyms” where they can duke it out with computer-controlled opponents.
“It requires some imagination or suspension of disbelief, but it makes you believe there are Pokémon in the real world,” said Justin Hemenway, 31, of Carroll Gardens.
Discko said the communal aspect of the game makes it a unique force in a city like New York, as crowds gather on a search for the same Pokémon.
“My roommate and I are taking a walk tonight for the sole purpose of playing Pokémon Go,” she said.
Although it’s too early to tell if the game is a fad or here to stay, New Yorkers are organizing gatherings to join the hunt.
Rick Bross, a game designer from Prospect Heights, has scheduled a Pokémon Go Meetup Event for Saturday and expects more than 150 people to show up.
“I think New York will be a hub for Pokémon trainers,” he said.