An app that has been sweeping nations by motivating people to step out into their communities and search for different kinds of creatures to catch, can be found right here in the city of Rohnert Park and on the Sonoma State University campus.
Pokémon Go was first released early in July and immediately grew popular among many different age groups.
According to iTunes, Pokémon Go is one of the top grossing applications as of Aug. 25. A major area of interest fell to those who played Pokémon or watched the television series as children.
“I pretty much play every day,” said Leo Brajkovich, a sophomore at Sonoma State and avid Pokémon Go player. “I am definitely out more because of it.”
One of the positive effects of the game is that it’s based on a real world map that requires you to walk to your desired location. For most players of the game, this feature gives opportunities to leave the house and go on walks frequently.
Even businesses are taking advantage of the Pokémon craze and utilize their location on the Pokémon Go map. Brajkovich referenced a Starbucks in downtown Walnut Creek that has a PokéStop located at their store. He also said that the store advertises lures, an object that attracts Pokémon to that area, at their PokéStop between certain hours of the day.
Locally, there is a PokéStop inside of the El Rancho Taqueria on Snyder Lane. The PokéStop at the taqueria is located at one of the murals inside.
“It had a positive effect,” said Miguel Rodriguez, an employee at El Rancho Taqueria, in reference to the Pokémon Go app. He also mentioned Sonoma State students and high school students come in regularly for the PokéStop.
Although Pokémon Go has encouraged players to leave their homes in search for the best Pokémon, it has also put some players in unwanted situations.
“I was on my bike playing Pokémon Go and I dropped my phone and had to get the screen replaced,” said Brajkovich.
Since the release of the game, many news services have reported various incidents involving Pokémon Go. One of the first concerns with the app was that users would try to play the interactive game while driving. About a month after the app had been out, Niantic Labs added a notification that comes up whenever the user is in a car and asks you to declare if you are a passenger or not.
The idea behind the notification was to discourage people from using the app while driving. Although this should curb some of the incidents associated with driving, it doesn’t entirely solve the problem.
The Japan Times recently reported a fatality where a woman was ran over due to a driver being distracted by playing Pokémon Go on his phone.
In spite of the accidents that have happened, Pokémon Go tries to promote an active lifestyle. In the game, users can find eggs, which they can hatch into Pokémon. The catch is players have to walk in order to hatch the egg, which can sometimes take as much as 10 kilometers to hatch.
“Whenever I get a 2km, egg I go hatch it immediately,” said Brajkovich.
The game only lets you hatch the egg going 10 miles per hour, which means driving to hatch an egg will not work. In a way, the game forces users to be active if they wish to hatch any Pokémon eggs.
At Sonoma State, there are six different Pokémon gyms and various PokéStops throughout campus. Locations such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Grove, Lobo’s, the Beaujolais Fountain and the Charles Ives Hall are all PokéStops.