Too busy for Poke­mon? Th­ese en­trepreneurs will play for you

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - EZRA KA­PLAN

NEW YORK — Too busy with your real life to play the hit aug­mented re­al­ity game “Poke­mon Go”? For a price, some en­trepreneurs will play the game for you.

New ads are pop­ping up on Craigslist nearly ev­ery day from peo­ple who say they will log on to your “Poke­mon Go” ac­count and ef­fec­tively run up your score while you are stuck at work or school.

On a re­cent af­ter­noon, two 24year-old Poke­mon “train­ers,” Lewis Gu­tier­rez and Jor­dan Clark, walked through Brook­lyn’s Prospect Park with their eyes glued to their phones, tap­ping and swip­ing away to catch vir­tual Poke­mon for clients pay­ing about $20 per hour for the ser­vice.

Gu­tier­rez, who de­scribed him­self as a welder and writer, said he be­gan by help­ing rel­a­tives with the game af­ter it was re­leased in the United States in early July. Then he put a post on Craigslist ad­ver­tis­ing his ser­vices pro­fes­sion­ally.

He said he was im­me­di­ately in­un­dated with re­quests and had to re­cruit Clark, a part-time wine pur­veyor, to help.

“I couldn’t even do it by my­self,” Gu­tier­rez said. “I had two phones. I was do­ing, like, 10-hour days and I got my friend Jor­dan to come along with me. And now it looks like we are go­ing to have to hire an­other per­son. So it’s just been boom­ing.”

The two col­lege friends liken the ser­vice to dog walk­ing and call them­selves Poke­walk­ers.

And they aren’t the only ones get­ting in the game. One trainer in Lon­don of­fers to boost your Poke­mon ac­count up to Level 20, which is very high, for a price of $185. Oth­ers of­fer Uber-like driv­ing ser­vices with the prom­ise of tak­ing a player to some of the hottest Poke­mon hunt­ing grounds around the city.

Played on smart­phones, “Poke­mon Go” has been a phe­nom­e­non since its re­lease. The game in­volves go­ing to real-world lo­ca­tions to chase vir­tual char­ac­ters from the clas­sic Nin­tendo game.

Pay­ing peo­ple to play a game for you might seem to defy com­mon sense, but Gu­tier­rez and Clark say clients come to them mainly for two rea­sons. They want to com­pete in the game at a high level, but don’t have time to roam the city and play all day. Or they are get­ting ready for a “Poke­date.”

“It’s a good first date for Tin­der,” said Clark, re­fer­ring to the lo­ca­tion­based dat­ing app.

Some want to im­press their po­ten­tial love part­ners by be­ing in the game at a re­spectable level.

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