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Pokemon Go phenomenon sweeping across Canberra

by Brent Ford

(image credit Niantic Inc)

The Pokemon Go phenomenon continues to go, with nearly six thousand people in the Pokemon Go Canberra Facebook group.

The game designed by Niantic in collaboration with Nintendo, was created with the idea of catching virtual critters called pokemon using your GPS tracking on your mobile. The game tracks where you are, tells you which Pokemon are in your area.

It also uses places around your area creating virtual gyms (where you can train Pokemon and battle with other teams) and Pokestops, where players can restock on Pokeballs (used to catch Pokemon) eggs (which you incubate so they can hatch) and potions which can be used to heal your Pokemon after a battle.

Truth be, while it seems like a simple idea the nostalgia behind it is what has people hooked.

Mitchell McIness the founder of the Pokemon Go Canberra Facebook page says it's everyone's childhood dream.

"Think about it, if you had something from your childhood come back in style, and in a more accessible option would you not jump on it?" He said.

"It's every 12 year old's dream."

But what's fascinating about this is that the majority of players aren't teenagers, and that's because the game reconnects players with their favourite Pokemon from the original 1996 version.

One thing is for sure the game is a conversation starter. One of my co-workers raised concerns about the security of the app, a very valid point and a reason why many haven't downloaded the game, however it appears that has been fixed.


Police have also been targeting drivers who Pokemon-and-go. Playing the game while they drive, pretty dumb if you ask me. While the conversation continues on whether it's appropriate to play the game while in the Australian War Memorial, or places of cultural significance.

The safety aspect of the game has come into question with players losing awareness of their surroundings and running into things, while concerns over lures (put down on Pokestops to attract Pokemon to the location) being used to rob people or endanger children.

The best tips here are to never play Pokemon Go while driving, if you're going to hunt Pokemon go out in a group with people you know, if you are a concerned parent you could even bond with your child over the game, and go out with them and hunt the little critters.

For those walking and playing the game, it's not that hard to keep an eye out and be respectful of those around you. As a player myself I refuse to play the game after a certain time, and have a ban on playing the game while at work.

Despite some of the negatives that have come out of the game, there has been a number of positives. Businesses that are near Pokestops are seeing increases in business and using the game to help thrive in a competitive hospitality industry in Canberra.

Online retailer Kogan says the sales of battery packs have tripled in the past week, with the game notorious for zapping your phone battery. The game is also bringing people together, nearly everyday this week hundreds of Canberrans have been getting down to Questacon in search of that elusive rare Pokemon.

With some in the community even using it as a way to raise money for a charity, with a BBQ taking place on Saturday at 2pm outside Questacon to raise funds.

There will also be a Pokemon Go walk starting outside the Legislative Assembly on Sunday from 12pm, with thousands of people expected to enjoy the sunshine.

I've found while playing the game I have been more active as well, with the Heart Foundation saying 30 minutes of exercise a week, five times a week will lower your risk of heart disease.

 At the end of the day the most important thing to remember out of all of this is that it's just a game, and like all games the craze will pass.



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