With both youth and adults alike getting behind the mobile game craze PokémonGo, it’s no surprise that a Facebook group for Stettler’s Pokémon catchers sprung up almost immediately upon the game’s Canadian release.
The game, which allows people to wander around their communities in search of Pokémon, find Pokéstops for free Pokémon in-game swag, or compete and train at gyms, has resulted in people of all ages walking around Stettler and discovering new places and making new friends.
The game uses phone and tablet GPS technology to overlay area maps.
As people walk or bike, they have a chance of discovering Pokémon, cartoonish “monsters” that can be caught using pokéballs.
Landmarks, such as churches, stores, restaurants and facilities, become Pokéstops or Pokémon gymnasiums.
Ryan Stratulate of John’s Menswear has used Facebook to promote the Pokéstop outside his workplace — the Pokéstop is for Wells Furniture.
He places a lure in the Pokéstop, which attracts Pokémon to the area, giving people nearby a chance to capture rarer creatures.
“I’m a PokémonGo player myself,” Stratulate said. “So I threw the lure up outside. I don’t know if we had anyone come in because of it, but I did see more people come by.”
Competition at the West Stettler Park is fierce.
The park is home to multiple Pokémon Gymnasiums, which can be controlled by one of three Pokémon teams.
When players reach level five, they can choose which team — Team Mystic, Team Instinct or Team Valor — they want to belong to.
The three teams vie for control of the Gymnasiums.
The park is also home to multiple Pokéstops, and besides, being a Pokémon paradise means players definitely get some walking in.
“(The game) gets me out walking more than I used to,” Stratulate admitted. “I like games myself, so if I can get outside and play at the same time, why not?”
As the game has taken the globe by storm, reports about bad Pokémon behaviour has come to the forefront.
People have been caught wandering in to military bases, have been caught trespassing, have been in traffic accidents, and have fallen off cliffs or other high objects in the pursuit of Pokémon.
Other reports of the game being used as a lure for crime have also come up.
Sgt. Phil Penny, commander of the Stettler RCMP detachment, said that the game hasn’t been a problem here in Stettler, and he hopes it won’t become one.
“Keep your wits about you (when playing),” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”
He noted that in the United States, an adult man made a video of himself using the game to lure youth into a wooded area in search of a “rare” Pokémon.
There, the man would confront the youth about the lack of caution.
“He told the youth, ‘Are you crazy? You walk into the woods with a strange man? Do your parents know you do this?’” Penny recalled, likening the use of the game as a potential lure to the puppy lost in the woods danger. “Just because someone says they play a game doesn’t mean they do. A lot of (the concern) is the safety issues.”
Penny said it’s important that people remember to keep their heads and not play the game while driving.
“That definitely falls into distracted driving,” he said, noting that the ticket comes with a fine and demerits. “Don’t do it.”
He also wanted to remind players to respect the property of other people while playing the fun game.
“Just because there’s a Pokémon in someone’s back yard doesn’t mean you can go there to catch it,” he said. “Don’t trespass.”
The PokémonGo Facebook group for Stettler can be found by searching for “Pokemon Go Stettler.”