Pokemon Go fever hits Historic Triangle

svaughan@vagazette.com

WILLIAMSBURG — The Historic Triangle is embracing some 21st century technology that has fans of the popular Pokemon series outside in search of their favorite characters.

The game is free to play, although there are options to buy in game upgrades. It allows players, through the use of their smart phones, to track, battle, capture and train virtual creatures, called Pokemon.

The game requires access to the phone's GPS and camera that displays an augmented version of reality through the phone's screen.

Players have flocked to Colonial Williamsburg and other historic sites in search of characters.

"Like many other public history sites Colonial Williamsburg has embraced the Pokémon Go phenomenon. Each day the game draws hundreds of people into the Historic Area who might not otherwise have visited. We're developing new ways of engaging them via programming and attractions, and we're reaching out to them via Facebook and our other social media platforms like our Making History blog," said Colonial Williamsburg spokesman Joe Straw. "We encourage players to follow those channels for information about new game-related events to come. We welcome players and just ask that they take care to watch their step as well as their fellow guests."

Even in the more than 90 degree hit at noon on Friday, it was easy to find Pokemon Go players in the Historic Area. You just had to look for people staring very intently at their phones.

"They seem to have a lot of players here," said Kuu Vu, as he tracked Pokemon on Duke of Gloucester Street near Merchant Square.

Amanda Doggett was working the same area.

Beth Zambella was hunting on the Palace Green.

"I'm really impressed by the way Colonial Williamsburg has embraced this," she said. "They have updates on their Facebook page. This really does seem to be a great way to get people of all ages into the Historic Area."

According to Straw, mid-day is probably not even the peak Pokemon time in the Historic Area.

My understanding is that the demographic is millennials and they're out there in the evening after work, tons of them," he said Thursday.

Heritage Humane Society is suggesting that players use Pokemon Go for a good cause, getting the walking in they need to hatch their "Pokemon eggs" by volunteering to walk the dogs.

There's a YouTube tutorial about playing Pokemon Go at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, complete with safety tips about watching where you are going to avoid running into other guests or park infrastructure.

And that's not the only place in the area to play.

"Yes, people have been observed playing Pokemon Go at both Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center," said Jamestown-Yorktown spokeswoman Debby Padgett.

She said there had not been any problems due to the game, as far as she knew.

But there has also been some controversy elsewhere.

So far, some distracted players have been involved in traffic accidents from upstate New York to Australia to Texas — with some players apparently playing while driving.

At least one person — in Pennsylvania — has been hit by a car due to walking into traffic while playing.

And, according to a Huffpost article Friday, two men in San Diego suffered serious injuries when they fell off a cliff trying to catch Pokemon.

Pokemon Go frenzy has reached such a level that both the National Holocaust Museum and Arlington National Cemetery have found it necessary to post signs telling people that playing Pokemon Go there is inappropriate.

Vaughan can be reached at (757)345-2343.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
72°