NEW CRAZE IN TOWN:
POKEMON GAME INVADES NEWTON COUNTY
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.
Alex Picard, Hanah Always, Kaylee Nicholas, Rob Stanage and Dakota Stanage play Pokemon Go on the Covington Square Tuesday.
A Pokemon Squirtle appears on the Covington Square through the use of the Pokemon Go game.