If the dog is enjoying extra long-walks over the past few days, or if your kids are begging to be taken on errands or to your town’s water tower, do NOT be alarmed. But DO ask them what they are doing, and where they are going. It’s probably safe to assume that they’re playing Pokémon Go, the latest app to be downloaded onto smart and Android phones and devices. The whole family can get involved; the game encourages physical activity and fosters teamwork. And with a few common sense guidelines, Pokémon Go can be a fun and safe family activity.
Pokémon Go Basics
To play, the FREE app needs to be downloaded and players need a Google or Pokémon account, and have access to Wi-Fi or a data plan. The device’s GPS system allows the game to know where a player is in real life, and allows the game to signal where to find the nearest Pokémon characters virtually hidden at real places. The game only works if you are physically out walking; locations sync up to the map systems contained in the game.
Players hunt for Pokémon characters by using the app and accessing the “Nearby” menu within the game. There are 135 Pokémon creatures to be captured. Throw Poké Balls at the Pokémon by swiping on the screen. Gather more Poké Balls and even pick up virtual Pokémon Eggs at Pokéstops; train your Pokémon or battle with other teams at Pokémon Gyms for top ranking power. And Pokémon Eggs will only hatch and produce a new Pokemon creature when a player walks between 2 to 10 kilometers (between one and six miles) while playing the game.
Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms are indicated on the map screen of the game: Pokéstops look like blue cubes on the map, gyms appear as a floating arena, and the characters pop up on the map only when you are very close by the virtual creature; the device will vibrate to alert you, and then the Pokemon will appear on the map. Tap on the character when it appears on the map, and a new screen pulls up, allowing the player to toss Poké Balls in an effort to capture the character. Some characters are harder to catch than others, and some will evade and escape the player’s efforts.
Pokémon Go players range in age from four to adult. Players cannot be tracked by others as the game is played; only players can view their own location on the device used to play the game. The following common sense guidelines can help keep the game safe for your players:
- Make sure your child is age-appropriately supervised during Pokémon Go playing time.
- Establish playing hours for your children.
- There is safety in numbers; children should not be playing this game around town alone.
- Only play in areas and surroundings that you as a parent are familiar with and that you know are safe.
- Use caution when navigating near public service buildings, such as fire and police stations; use care not to block driveways or cross streets.
- Pokemon Go should not be played while riding a bicycle.
- Be sure that children are aware of their surroundings as they play and navigate, and remain mindful of the terrain, and safety boundaries.
- Children should be polite while playing in public areas, and respectful of the people surrounding them as they play.
- Instruct your children to leave all public playing areas in good shape.
- Remind your children about your family’s rules for interacting with strangers.
Pokémon Go Experience
Little Lake County polled its readers and writers, and asked for feedback about their experiences with Pokémon Go. For some of us, this new craze feels like being catapulted through a time warp to some 20 years ago, when Pokémon was introduced for Game Boy. Others are very excited for the new game, and are thankful for the new outlet to interact with children and get out of the house and explore. The reactions and experiences we learned about were very positive:
“We play on my phone and I’ve never had my teenage kids so excited to go for a walk with me. This game is super fun and through it we’ve spotted cool animals (real ones), amazing art work, and even found historical sights we didn’t know about.” ~Jessica L., Little Lake County reader
“I like how you have to find stuff around the world. I even found some at the grocery store!” ~Jordan V., age nine
“My 4-year-old twins are running around my backyard chasing each other and screaming “Pokémon Go” at each other. And I have no idea where they even heard about it, because we aren’t playing at my house.” ~Maureen C., Little Lake County writer
“It’s fun to walk around the real world and find stuff.” ~Reluctant Tween, age 11
“My 5-year-old says that “he has to catch all the Pokémon.” ~Rosemary B., Little Lake County writer
Where to Hunt Pokémon Go in Lake County
Note, in most instances, players do NOT have to go inside of buildings to capture Pokémon.
- Chicago Botanic Garden
- Fire Stations
- Great America; consult the Pokemon Go Player’s Guide to Six Flags Great America
- Grocery Stores
- Gurnee Mills
- Millennium Park, Chicago
- Park district facilities
- Police Stations
- Public Art Installations (statues, fountains)
- Shopping districts
- Toy Stores
- Train Stations
- Water Towers
How to Take Cool Photos with Pokémon
Tip: do it within the app, and not with a screenshot. When you encounter a Pokémon, tap on the Pokémon when it appears on the map and then select the “Camera,” and take a photo. The image is instantly saved to your device’s photo gallery.
Organized, Pokémon Go Activities
Tilt Studio at Rink Side Sports
Gurnee Mills, 6152 Grand Ave, Gurnee | (847) 856-1064
Show your Pokemon Go progress to an attendant and receive a FREE Tilt Studio at Rink Side Sports game card. Points issued will be based upon the level you are at. One point per level. Must register game card.
Pokemon GO Chicagoland Meet-up at the Chicago Botanic Garden
Friday, July 22, 12:00 p.m
Chicago Botanic Garden, Heritage Garden Gym | 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe | (847) 835-5440
No need to register in advance; the meet-up starts at the Heritage Garden Gym location. Cosplayers and all ages welcome.
Pokémon Go Pokéwalk Challenge
Saturday, August 6, 12:oo p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Port Clinton Square, 600 Central Ave., Highland Park
Get Your Poké Balls ready for a 3-hour walk filled with Pokéstops, gyms and all the Pokémon you can catch throughout Downtown Highland Park. Lures will be set up at Highland Park’s most popular landmarks and art sculptures. There are a ton of gyms to battle your Pokemon as well! Wear your favorite Pokémon gear or your team colors (Yellow, Blue, Red). You are welcome to stay or stray away from the group. Please bring water, snacks, and battery packs to keep your phones charged. This event is not owned, managed, or affiliated with Niantic, Nintendo, or the Pokémon company. Sponsored by Downtown Highland Park.
Confession: I’ve been out with my kids as they’ve hunted Pokémon at a local park. We’ve walked a paved trail that was new to us, brought the dog, and had a lot of conversation NOT related to Pokémon. It was a peaceful evening, and we saw many others: groups of adults, boys and girls with cell phones in hand , talking and walking the same trail as the sun set. Will Pokémon Go be merely a summer fad, or will it branch out further? Stay tuned, and Little Lake County will keep you in the know with the latest local developments in Pokémon Go.
Where have you found the most Pokémon in Lake County?