West Point becomes a Pokemon Go hot spot

savwilliams@tidewaterreview.com
The new smartphone game Pokemon Go uses landmarks to reward gamers, so West Point is a treasure trove.

If you notice a sudden spike of children wandering around West Point, staring at their smartphones, don't be alarmed, they're probably just playing Pokemon Go.

This location-based interactive game been so popular since its July 6 release, that it has added more than $7 billion to the market value of it's parent company, Nintendo in less than a week.

The Pokemon Go app connects to your phone's GPS system, and as you walk, your phone indicates the relative location of the game's creatures, called Pokemon.

The game's creators have placed some features in the Tidewater area. Within West Point's six square miles, the Review has found five gyms and eight pokestops, with plenty of Pokemon to go with them.

West Point teens Chipper Sweeney, Cole Sandelin, John Daniel, Willie Daniel and Jacob Cheatham were outside playing the game Monday afternoon.

The boys are leaders in some of the West Point Pokemon gyms.

Sandelin, 19, said "We came across (an Omanyte)," which is a rarer Pokemon, "but we couldn't catch it."

A reboot of the popular 20-year-old franchise, Pokemon Go is now rivaling Twitter in popularity, and is being downloaded more often than Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram on the Google Play Store, according to Forbes. More people have Pokemon Go installed on their Android phones than the popular dating app, Tinder, and they are spending twice the amount of time using Pokemon Go as they do Snapchat.

There are different ways to play, but the general idea is people go outside and collect virtual creatures to train and battle with. A video game that requires people run around outside? Yes, you did read that right.

When a player gets close enough to a Pokemon, he or she has the option to try to catch it in a contraption called a pokeball. Once it's caught, they can take their new pets to gyms, and battle other players or level up their Pokemon.

There are even different Pokemon to correspond with different gamer locations. Near the water, players catch water-type creatures, and near fields, they catch grass-type, and so on.

Gamers restock their supplies of pokeballs at game sites called pokestops, which overlap with real-world historical and community landmarks. Perhaps, then, it comes as no surprise that West Point has a gold mine of pokestops and gyms.

The game has garnered the national media's attention for its ability to get kids outside and walking.

The app has a built-in pedometer, and there are rewards for hitting milestone walking distances. Some pokestops dole out eggs, which hatch and give the player bonus items after he or she walks a set number of kilometers. The eggs have different distances, some demanding two kilometers, others 10.

The group of West Point teens who spoke to the Review said they had "walked at least 10 miles" in the three hours they had been playing on Monday, and "hatched at least five eggs."

Some of the game's creatures could be right under your nose. Several have appeared in the Review's 12th Street office. Be sure to get outside and check out your neighborhood for local Pokemon.

Here's what we found

Pokestops:

The Edge Worship Center

Historical Marker for Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller

Mt. Nebo Baptist Church

St. John's Episcopal Church

West Point Town Square Pavilion

West Point Library

King William County Historical Marker by Mattaponi bridge

West Point Beach Park

Gyms:

Home of Carter Braxton Historical Marker

West Point United Methodist Church

West Point Church of God

Indian Treaty of 1646 Historical Marker

Col. John West II Marker

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