NEW CRAZE IN TOWN:

POKE­MON GAME INVADES NEW­TON COUNTY

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

Lo­cals are fa­mil­iar with crea­tures call­ing New­ton County home. We do, af­ter all, play hosts to Vam­pires and Zom­bies. But this week new crea­tures moved into town and hun­dreds have been hunt­ing them.

Walk­ing through­out the Cov­ing­ton Square, area churches, his­tor­i­cal build­ings and even ceme­ter­ies, hun­ters of these crea­tures can be seen am­bling around star­ing at their cell phones, ea­ger to catch the craze of these lit­tle mon­sters.

It’s a craze that has spread na­tion­wide, gen­er­at­ing more fol­low­ers, and buzz, as the week went on.

Poké­mon Go re­quires play­ers to down­load a free app on their cell­phones, cre­ate an avatar, or vir­tual user, and then mon­i­tor their phones for where the Poké­mon, lit­tle dig­i­tal mon­sters, ap­pear. The Poké­mon ap­pear on screen over­laid onto a vir­tual back­ground map, or through their phone’s cam­era. Catch­ing a Poké­mon, by vir­tu­ally throw­ing a Poke Ball at them on their phone, ac­cu­mu­lates points.

Cov­ing­ton is home to sev­eral Poké­mon Go sites, lead­ing play­ers to walk around lo­ca­tions such as the Square star­ing at their phones and meet­ing other Poké­mon Go users.

“You can find them any­where,” said Austin Davy, a Poké­mon Go player and Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent. “You can find them driv­ing down the road; you can find them at your house.

Two groups of Poké­mon hun­ters found some in the cen­ter of the Cov­ing­ton Square Park, and noted other lo­ca­tions around the Square.

“The John Sny­der star has one, the Con­fed­er­ate Memo­rial has one, all these land­marks are used for mark­ing points,” said Rob Stan­age, who lives on Floyd Street.

Su­sanna Roberts even found some in her store Hill­billy Pets on 251 Al­mon Road.

Roberts said she and her daugh­ter pulled up to the shop on Sun­day and saw a group of peo­ple in the park­ing lot, point­ing their phones at the 160-year-old stone build­ing.

“My daugh­ter saw them and thought some­thing was wrong,” Roberts said.

She then asked the group what they were do­ing and they showed her, cap­tur­ing sev­eral Poké­mon that were vir­tu­ally com­ing out of art­work she painted on her store.

“A Poké­mon egg comes out of horses [painted on the front of the build­ing] on the screen, and an­other Poké­mon comes out.”

Roberts did note, how­ever, that the de­sign­ers of the game used the images of her build­ing with­out per­mis­sion and even dig­i­tally touched up some of the faded art­work.

The game is gen­er­ated through Google maps, with Nin­tendo dis­tribut­ing it on Android and iPhone app stores. The game has got­ten peo­ple out­side in the hot sum­mer heat, while tem­per­a­tures have been in the 90’s, search­ing for Poké­mon and points.

How­ever, they are fo­cused on what is hap­pen­ing on their phones, lead­ing to sev­eral re­ported in­ci­dents through­out the United States.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported that po­lice in St. Louis re­ported that rob­bers are perched near at­trac­tive dig­i­tal spots to rob play­ers en­grossed in the game. Phoenix po­lice are warn­ing peo­ple not to tres­pass while play­ing the game. The New York sub­way au­thor­i­ties are urg­ing peo­ple not to jump on the tracks to change dig­i­tal “Rat­tatas,” small quadruped ro­dent Poké­mon.

The Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Depart­ment hasn’t seen any is­sues stem­ming from the game, as of Tues­day, but the Conyers Po­lice Depart­ment is­sued some safety tips on its Face­book page: Al­ways walk in groups Do not Poké­mon hunt and drive Be aware of your sur­round­ings Keep to public ac­cess ar­eas Roberts said she was wor­ried about some of the safety is­sues about the pop­u­lar game she saw on “Good Morn­ing Amer­ica.”

“This has got­ten un­real,” Roberts said. “I’m scared about peo­ple get­ting hurt.”

Play­ers, how­ever, are see­ing it as a good thing and a way for peo­ple to get out and get to know each other.

“It’s fun,” Han­nah Al­ways said.

“Poké­mon is pop­u­lar, and it’s just some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Stan­age said.

Bryan Fazio | The Cov­ing­ton News

Alex Pi­card, Hanah Al­ways, Kaylee Ni­cholas, Rob Stan­age and Dakota Stan­age play Poke­mon Go on the Cov­ing­ton Square Tues­day.

Gra­cie Miller | The Cov­ing­ton News

A Poke­mon Squir­tle ap­pears on the Cov­ing­ton Square through the use of the Poke­mon Go game.

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