If you’ve been downtown or by the lakefront in the last week, you’ve probably noticed a ton of people staring at their cell phones talking about Pokemon Go, gyms, PokeClusters, lures, and catches.

Playing an augmented reality game collectively, the Pokemon Go Racine-Kenosha Facebook page now has over 700 people out catching characters with names like Squirtles, Tauros, Jynx, and Doduo. The game requires players to download the Pokemon Go app on their cell phones. As players walk around in the real world, random Pokemon characters can be caught by aiming the cellphone toward the character by hitting it with a virtual ball.

Joe Lofquist, a Racine native who lives in Kenosha, said he started playing the game when it started July 7 and so did his wife and friends.

“What’s unique about the user experience is what must be a first of its kind where you physically need to walk around and explore your local surroundings to catch Pokemon. It maps local public buildings, parks, statues, etc as points of interest to move yourself forward in the game,” he wrote in a message to Racine County Eye.

The biggest draw for Lofquist has been playing a game outside, exploring the community, and meeting new people.

“Unfortunately you don’t interact with each other thru the game too much, but you find yourself physically next to someone having a shared experience and talking face to face and interacting even if you aren’t in the game,” he said. “It’s a different step for technology in the Internet age. You are going outside meeting people as part of the game. Which is a positive thing. It has just been a phenomenon like I haven’t seen.”

The Facebook group seems to be having fun with the game by encouraging its members to post funny photos on the page, people are offering to drive friends around so that they can focus on playing the game, and are encouraging one another to download charity aps that donate money for people who walk.

While players here have embraced the game, some property owners have not been as receptive to having those players on their property. Johnathon Rhoades went to set out to lure more Pokemon at a Pokestop at St. Rita’s Church, but was quickly shoo’ed away by the Caledonia Police Department.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is also warning players not to drive distracted while playing the game. On Wednesday it posted a warning to drivers:

With that said, Al Days, deputy chief for the Racine Police Department, said his department hasn’t had any reports of robberies or burglaries.

“I was out with my wife the other night and there were a ton of people downtown searching… it’s good to see people out in the community enjoying themselves,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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