BY KYNLI SMITH
In the evening in Basin, one can drive along the small town streets past the courthouse, the library or Henderson Field and see people with their cell phones out actively searching. They are not searching for a signal or checking Facebook. They are playing a new game, Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go was launched in early July and can be downloaded on Apple and Android de-vices. The game takes players on a journey between the virtual world and the reality.
“It’s great seeing kids running around and getting off their butts rather than sitting at home playing a video game,” said Gary Hibbert, who on Monday evening was outside the Big Horn County Courthouse with his girlfriend, Alexis Smith, battling their Pokemons against others.
“It gets me out of my house and I’m not so lazy now,” said Smith.
Fans of Pokemon when they were kids, they have been playing for about a week and have spent the last several nights gaining more Pokemon and battling others all around Basin and the surrounding areas.
“You also get to meet a lot of people you would never meet if you weren’t playing the game,” said Hibbert. “Last night a group of us were just sitting around the flagpole trying to gain control of the gym.”
So far Hibbert has about 44 Pokemons collected while Smith has about 100.
HOW IT WORKS
After players download and log into the Pokemon Go app, they create an avatar. After the avatar is created to the player’s liking, it is displayed on a map of the player’s current surroundings.
The game uses AR (augmented reality) as well as Google Maps that make it extremely accurate in a player’s location. The game also has an expansive database on real-world objects submitted by players to make up the Pokestops
On the map players can see PokeStops and Pokemon gyms. The stops provide players with eggs and Pokeballs and other equipment. The gyms serve as battle locations for teams to gain control of the gym.
“I’m surprised more kids aren’t playing,” said Nicholas Unruh. “We have been seeing a ton of adults.”
Unruh, who as of Monday evening currently had control of the gym in Basin which is located out of the Big Horn County Courthouse. Unruh is on team red.
There are three teams that currently battle for control of the gym red, yellow and blue.
“The gym is where you go and do battle,” said Unruh. You try to control the gym because you get bonus points for control. I may have control of the gym now, but it changes daily.
According to Unruh most Pokestops are at nonprofit, art related or public buildings. For ex-ample in Basin there are Pokestops at the library, courthouse, post office, Henderson Field and the Town of Basin office.
More gyms can also be added to a town depending on the number of players in the location. For example, Greybull has three gyms.
“They intentionally designed the game to get people out to where you have to go to the locations,” said Unruh. “It’s good it gets people out moving but you mostly interact with people on your phone, still.”
He added that the app has been glitchy lately, but said that it was nice because it’s a free game for people to play.
CHANGING THE GAME
Since Pokemon Go’s launch in early July, the net worth of its creator, Nintendo, has risen into the billons.
It also appears to be not only a Basin phenomenon but also a world phenomenon. The game is also bringing out first-time players and introducing people to the world of Pokemon.
“This is my first time playing Pokemon,” said Lacosta Davis.
The game is also the first ap of its kind to successfully blend the physical world and the virtual world. While the AR plays a minimal role in the actual game, and players can only use the feature when catching a Pokemon, businesses are starting to use it to their advantage.
According to Time’s Tim Bajarin, “There are already examples of stores using a Lure (a virtual object that lures Pokémon to a specific location) in order to get people to their retail locations. After posting a Lure, some restaurants I have talked to report business up as much as 25 percent as people try and find a Pokémon in or near these eating establishments. Now, cross this thinking with how stores may battle something like Amazon, which does not have more than a couple of physical locations. Physical retail’s best tactic against Amazon is technology. Most retailers sim-ply don’t use it effectively. This is the start of something interesting when local businesses can start taking advantage of blending the physical and digital in ways that online-only players can-not. This is augmented reality perhaps in a way we had not considered before. Think about it as digital overlaying the physical with graphics and adding location and geodata in new and creative ways. It’s hard to predict where this goes. But we are clearly seeing a social movement here in ways we had not before.”
This change in the game could potentially affect local businesses in Basin in the future where they could use it to their advantage. But for now players plan to continue searching high and low for Pokemons around town and will be battling it with their phones in front of the courthouse.
“Just go everywhere,” said Hibbert “Catch as many of them as you can.”