Groups of residents and visitors have been flocking by car, bike and foot to Shelton landmarks and parks in search of Pokémon in the popular app, Pokémon Go, which was released earlier in July.
The Huntington Plaza has been crawling with Pokémon of all shapes and sizes as adults and kids rush to capture them.
“Basically you just walk around and you have to look at your phone and everytime a Pokémon pops up on your phone you have to click on it and catch it,” said Brian Callinan of Shelton as he scanned the Huntington Green for new Pokémon to capture.
The goal of the game is to “catch them all,” battle your friends for territory, and become a “Pokémon master” by collecting all of the rarest Pokémon.
“Don’t waste your Pokeballs,” said Pamela Zuckerman, 17, of Shelton.
The app transforms your phone’s GPS into a map of the game. From there, a player can walk to locations around their town to find Pokémon, Pokegyms and Pokecenters, which are used to increase your player’s skills in the game and grab more supplies.
“It makes me walk a lot more than I expect,” said Zuckerman, as she just missed catching the Pokémon Eevee who she saw skipping across the sidewalk.
While the app does provide a chance for people to explore their communities and practice strategies, it has also presented some safety issues in examples seen across the country.
In the app’s short existence a teen has already been hit by a car not paying attention while crossing the street and a couple was robbed at gunpoint while playing the game at night.
Zuckerman said that she has seen people firsthand walk into traffic in pursuit of Pokémon.
“If you look at your phone it will tell you how far you are from a specific, say rare Pokémon, you can chase it down and people do get excited,” she said.
State Police said players should not drive while playing the game or “be lured into unfamiliar places.”
“The best way to avoid this is to go with friends and not to do it in the middle of the night, basic safety stuff,” Callinan said.
These safety tips apply to all players, not just children.
John DiPasquale, 42, of Naugatuck, hunts Pokémon with his co-workers and said when he plays the game with his children he stays local. He said he enjoys the experience of playing with his kids and getting out in the community.
“We’ve gone around numerous walks lately just to kind of get out of the house and go play,” said DiPasquale.
The app has also sparked a friendly feud between players as it allows you to choose from three different teams. DiPasquale and his coworkers intentionally split up among the different teams the game has to offer so they could “battle” one another. The different sides are Team Valor, which is red, Team Mystic, which is blue, and Team Instinct, which is yellow.
Regardless of teams, the app has its players walk through different terrains and explore new towns to find the different types of Pokémon. With safety in mind, residents are being brought outdoors in a new way.
“It’s great because all these things are on monuments and on things that are fun to look at as well, so you can take your kids and learn about the town,” DiPasquale said.