Pokémon fever hits Prince Rupert with new app

Pokemon Go fever hits Prince Rupert. Even Mayor Lee Brain has gotten into the poké-spirit.

Cecil Chetwynd and Ryan Last are part of a new wave of Pokéfans

Cecil Chetwynd and Ryan Last are part of a new wave of Pokéfans

It’s 1999 all over again.

Except this time, instead of trading cards, Game Boy cartridges and after-school cartoons, it’s a smartphone app.

The Pokémon craze has returned with a vengeance, and while the franchise has never really gone away (it’s consistently one of Nintendo’s biggest brands), it’s seemingly on a no-end-in-sight, world headline dominating path once again.

Pokémon Go, the newest game from the franchise is the latest accessible and addicting entry on Android devices and IOS platforms. Despite not even being officially launched in Canada until this past Sunday, hundreds of Prince Rupert gamers young and old have found a way to download the game on their phone to join the hundreds of thousands in Canada who have already started playing.

“For me, it gets me out of the house and gives me exercise, it’s definitely about walking around and catching Pokémon, something that I used to play as a young man, 20 years ago,” said Prince Rupert’s Cecil Chetwynd.

“I think a lot of it right now is you get to share that excitement with everyone around you. The [older games], like the Pokémon on the Nintendo DS, was centred to you, so you play it by yourself and now, watching all the kids come running by as a group looking for the same Pokémon, it’s good to see that,” added Ryan Last of Good Times Games, a Rupert store that sells Pokémon cards, games and accessories.

The premise of the game centres around augmented reality, with the game utilizing a smartphone’s camera to incorporate 3D Pokémon into the screen of the world around you. Players then catch the pocket monsters with a Pokéball and raise their character’s level by catching more Pokémon, battling gyms and feeding their monsters virtual candy. Additionally, various sites around the world have been set up by Niantic (the game’s developer) as “Pokéstops” or “Gyms”, where players can pick up more Pokéballs and other items needed to continue playing.

The game has become pervasive throughout the world thanks to its ability to get pure strangers to meet and bond over the game.

In Canada, when the game officially launched on Sunday, Niantic’s servers crashed as thousands upon thousands downloaded the game and were off immediately hunting for rare and elusive Pokémon.

“People you wouldn’t normally meet – you’ll stop and talk to them because you have the same interests,” said Chetwynd.

Many public access areas have been set up by Niantic as these Pokéstops and gyms, such as public parks or open areas through working with technology from Google Maps, and in Prince Rupert it seems Mariner’s Park is Ground Zero for catching the critters.

“Over the last four nights I’ve actually been down there, I could say you’re getting anywhere from 30 – 50 people standing around over the course of a few hours. They come in, they park their cars, and you know they’re playing because their head is down and the light’s reflecting [from the phone],” said Chetwynd.

“The No. 1 thing you hear is ‘What team are you on?’ or ‘How big is that Pokémon you just caught?’ … There’s a camaraderie there and again, with people you might not have normally talked to, you would have passed them on the street without another word, and now you’re talking to people you never would have.”

Team Mystic, Instinct and Valor stickers and decals have been created, so players can instantly recognize members of the same or opposite teams.

The game asks the player to choose what team they’d like to side with, Team Valor, Team Mystic and Team Instinct, with the Pokémon legendary bird trio representing the mascots of each team, Moltres, Articuno and Zapdos respectively.

The team aspect has added a whole other dimension to the game.

“Here, it’s a friendly rivalry, we’ll say,” said Chetwynd, though power struggles to hold down gyms throughout the city are constantly taking place between the three teams.

And while stories from the U.S. and other countries with official releases have popped up involving accidents or robberies, safety hasn’t been an issue yet with the game in Rupert, thanks to the in-game screen that tells players to be aware of their surroundings and advisory notices on the Facebook group, Pokémon Go Prince Rupert.

“We always recommend to the kids that get set up to play, to play in groups. Don’t go wandering down the streets by yourself, you shouldn’t be down at the waterfront by yourself. It’s just common sense,” said Last.

“The game itself is for a group of people. I haven’t met anyone yet that hasn’t enjoyed the game or given me a sense of ‘Uh oh, there could be a problem here,’” said Chetwynd.

Already, businesses are pondering the possibilities of attracting customers who may be lingering outside their door because of a nearby creature.

This week, Good Times Games is hosting Pokémon Go excursions from Tuesday to Thursday, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for 12 kids aged six and up and features healthy snacks and Pokémon figures, stickers and cards. For more information, contact the store.

“I think we definitely would be interested, when it officially launches in Canada, to hold some information sessions and find out how businesses can get on board,” said Simone Clark, Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce manager of communications.

“There’s a definite advantage for these businesses to be running these opportunities. Clearly, the kids are going to want to play it, you might as well learn how to do it yourself.”

Even Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain shared a photo of a Nidoran sighting at City Hall on Facebook.

The City of Prince Rupert is also open to using the app as a potential way to keep tourists engaged in the City.

“Pokémon Go is definitely on our radar – especially considering City Hall is a ‘gym’ where players can challenge each other in the game,” said Veronika Stewart last week.

“We are tentatively researching opportunities with local partners that capitalize on the fact that the game can really showcase a city’s monuments and other key locations, and can also encourage physical activity. Once the game officially launches in Canada, we’ll look a little more deeply at those options. For now, we’d just like to encourage players to stay safe when they are out walking the streets playing the game, and to be sure to be aware of your surroundings.”



Just Posted

Joseph Albert Brooks, 94-years-young pf Prince Rupert offers traditional prayers and smudging to the sick. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Heart of our City: Joseph Albert Brooks keeps smudging and praying for others

94-year-old Tsimshian elder just wants some help washing his floors

Land along Prince Rupert’s waterfront, PID 012-247-391, where residents say excessive industrial train noise is stemming from, has been found to be owned by the City of Prince Rupert and is not federal land like first presented, Prince Rupert Environmental Society stated on June 17. (Image: supplied by Land Title and Survey, Govt. of BC.)
Error found on land titles map may assist city with noise control enforcement of industry

Prince Rupert residents had been told there was no municipal jurisdiction to enforce noise bylaws

Department of Oceans and Fisheries has announced as of July 19 chinook salmon is not to be fished in certain areas in BC tidal waters until July. Spring chinook salmon are seen swimming. (Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Chinook Salmon limits set to zero in some BC tidal waters

DFO implement restrictions to protect Chinook Salmon

Visitors to a pop-up temporary aquarium in Prince Rupert will have the chance to see marine ecology from July 21 to Aug. 15, like this viewer watching sea anemones at the Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert pop-up aquarium will bring sea level to eye level in July

A permanent peak to reef ecology centre is in the planning stages by North Coast Ecology Society

Prince Rupert’s Ellen Wright and Graeme Dickens jam out during filming the two Ring System Studio concerts to be broadcast on television during June. (Photo: supplied, H. Cox)
Ring System Studio sounds on television

Two concerts by the Prince Rupert music school will be broadcast in June

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

New research suggests wolves can be steered away from the endangered caribou herds they prey on by making the man-made trails they use to hunt harder to move along. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Culling cutlines, not B.C. wolves, key to preserving caribou herds: researcher

The government has turned to killing hundreds of wolves in an effort to keep caribou around

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The B.C. woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Most Read