By Katy Rogers
Pokémon Go, a new free-to-play mobile app, has quickly become an overnight sensation and is making an impact in greater Boston communities such as Everett.
While Pokémon may be an unfamiliar concept to some, the pocket sized monsters have been popular since the mid 1990s through a variety of mediums such as trading cards and classic video games.
The newest rendition, Pokémon Go, is a breakthrough in video game technology, being the first of its kind in the App store to cultivate the concept of virtual reality at one’s fingertips. The game uses GPS technology to encourage users to visit real world locations in order to collect the fictitious cartoon characters.
Amidst trying to capture the characters, there are also invisible “PokeStops” and “Gyms” located around the community which allow further interaction, such as collecting special items and competing with other Pokémon players.
Some hot spots in Everett include Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett Memorial Stadium, and the Parlin Library – just to name a few.
Upon its release, public areas such as Glendale Park flooded with Pokémon Go users trying to “catch ’em all” at any given time during the day. While the game appeals to a variety of ages, locally it seems to be most popular amongst teens and young adults who are gaming enthusiasts or are playing for nostalgic purposes.
Overall, the game has received a lot of praise, despite some glitches that are still being ironed out.
Andi Menendez, a local teen, said, “I think it’s a good game because it brings a lot of people together. Most of the time, people are too afraid to approach new people at first. I think Pokémon is breaking that barrier and creating new friendships. It also makes people much more active, instead of staying inside all day.”
Nicholas Nuzzo, a longtime Pokémon fan in Everett, has been collecting the cards since the concept was first invented when he was a small child in the 1990s.
“When I was in first grade, I told my teacher I wanted to be a ‘Pokemon Master’ when I grew up,” he said. “In a way, the new app makes this a more feasible statement.”
While the game is praised for getting people out of the house and meeting new friends, Pokémon Go has been featured on several national news stations warning users about its dangers. Like any phone game, it is important to pay attention to your surroundings.
Councilor Michael McLaughlin addressed some concerns he has with the game after hearing about some of the negativity on television.
“We have seen case after case [on the news] of people being hurt, robbed, and even people being sexually assaulted because they are being led into isolated areas,” he said. “I would hate hearing about this happening to someone in Everett.”
He said he feels very apprehensive about a game that encourages people to wander while being distracted by their phones.
Mario DelloIacono, who works security at Woodlawn Cemetery, has also expressed some skepticism.
Woodlawn Cemetery just so happens to have multiple Pokestops and a Gym at various landmarks, which lure people to the area quite frequently.
“We have no problem with groups coming into Woodlawn as long as they are respectful. So far they have been,” DelloIacono explained. “However we have encountered some kids in the cemetery at all hours of the night, and if this continues, we’re going to be forced to take action and those individuals will be prosecuted and the cemetery will be forced to stop all future activities regarding Pokemon.”
That said, he isn’t wholeheartedly opposed to the game, as most kids are just taking a stroll through the cemetery and being respectful.
While Pokémon Go seems to be the hottest trend of summer 2016, this is most likely just the beginning of bringing video games into the real world, and densely populated areas such as Everett will continue to be popular for Pokémon Go and games of the like.