It was 8 p.m. The sun was still out and Main Street in Pittston bustling with activity. It wasn’t parade day, or the Second Friday Art Walk.
It seems as Pittston has become a hotbed for “Pokemon Go” players.
The new game, which requires a smartphone, uses your GPS signal to know when and where you are in the game. Pokemon will then appear around you. Well, on your phone’s screen. The free game fulfills a fantasy all of us 20-somethings, and younger, all had. What if we could “Catch ‘em all?”
The object of the game is to catch Pokemon. You basically walk the streets until one appears. However, you need “Pokeballs” to catch them. This is where Pokestops come in, and Pittston is a major hotspot. The following are just a few of the Pokestops around Downtown Pittston: Greater Pittston YMCA, First Baptist Church, Pittston Memorial Library and Tony the Tomato Mule.
Then, there are gyms. Gyms are where Pokemon Masters go to fight their Pokemon against each other. In Pittston, the Coal Miners Mural, the Millennium Clock and the Mary statue at St. John the Evangelist Church are Pokegyms.
Pokemon in Pittston
I took to Twitter early last week asking if anyone would help me become a Pokemon Master. My night started by getting some pizza at Napoli’s, then I sat in the Pocket Park to see if any masters would emerge up and down Main Street.
I met a handful of people, but because of the rain around 7 p.m. Wednesday, it wasn’t the best night to hunt Pokemon. It was also about 100 degrees. Yet, we went up and down Main Street once, tallying about 30 different Pokemon sightings.
No doubt I am still an amateur Pokemon Go player. So far, I’ve caught 22 different kinds of Pokemon. In Pittston, I was able to capture a Squirtle at Quinn’s Market, a Gastly and Zubat near the Greater Pittston YMCA, and a Drowzee hanging out in front of the Inspiration Mural. I’m still new and have only sent my Pokemon to battle a couple times, only to get defeated — badly.
The cool part about the game is, just because you find a Pokemon, you don’t automatically catch it. You must throw (actually it’s a flicking motion on your phone’s screen) Pokeballs to catch the Pokemon.
I’ll admit, I first downloaded the game to write a story about it. I’ll go several hours without realizing I should probably check in if I’m downtown. I’m not to the point where it needs to be on my phone every second, and I hope I don’t get there.
But then things like this happen: A Weedle appeared on reporter Jimmy Fisher’s keyboard at the Dispatch office. Then, a Jigglypuff was on my keyboard.
The game itself seems harmless, right? Well AAA Mid-Atlantic recently sent a press release reminding users of the game to not play behind the wheel. First of all, I don’t think it’s possible. But I have heard complaints in the Greater Pittston area about users blindly walking the streets, nearly causing accidents.
And it’s not the safest game out there, according to Pennsylvania State Police. A PSP press release on July 13 reminded citizens should be cognizant of their surroundings and of players using the app on mobile devices. Criminals can also seek the opportunity to target players by luring them or waiting at Pokestops or gyms.
Recently, in St. Louis, four suspects activated a “lure module” and drew players to a secluded parking lot, where they allegedly robbed 11 players at gunpoint. Pittston seems much safer.
There have been some negative Facebook comments about the game over the past week, just in this area.
But an animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana has been using the game in a positive manner. The Muncie Animal Shelter is asking players to come to the shelter to walk their dogs while they play the game.
Although he knows he can’t catch them all, Nick Wagner will still hunt Jigglypuffs in his free time. Reach him at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick.