Downtown Kitchener becoming ground zero for local Pokemon Go fever
Downtown Kitchener’s Victoria Park has always played host to a wide variety of activities.
At any given time, you may find people out for a walk or run, trying to keep cool in the splash pad, sitting in the shade reading a book, and simply hanging around with friends.
In the last week or so, there’s been another big addition to the park’s activity list – Pokemon Go.
The smartphone-based game isn’t technically supposed to be available in Canada yet, but an untold number of fans have found ways around those roadblocks.
On a cool, cloudy Friday afternoon, it wasn’t hard to find Pokemon Go players in the park.
Some, like Talha Tungeker, were taking breaks during their workday and laughingly acknowledged that the game had them exploring new frontiers.
“I wouldn’t ever bother coming to the park and taking walks (otherwise),” he said.
The game involves catching creatures known as Pokemon, then training them to battle other Pokemon.
Pokemon Go is a unique addition to the series because it sets the gameplay in the real world, with Pokemon showing up at certain intervals based on players’ GPS data.
Like many players, Nick Theologos has quickly figured out that Victoria Park is a “landmine” for players – and being full of players also means lots of Pokemon around.
Theologos says he held off on downloading the game because he was worried about becoming addicted to it, only to have a friend put it on his phone without his knowledge.
“I gave it a shot … and next thing I know, I’m addicted,” he said.
Some local businesses are eyeing the game as a creative marketing opportunity.
TWH Social is doing its best to attract players inside its doors by attracting Pokemon with the use of lures, in-game items that have a cost in real dollars, but increase the chances of Pokemon showing up at real-world locations.
As further enticement, the restaurant is offering free bruschetta to anyone who catches a Pokemon while there, and tags the restaurant on a social media post showing off their new capture.
Restaurant supervisor Angela Meinzinger says the promotion is paying big dividends not only on social media, but also in terms of increased business.
“Every table’s just talking about Pokemon Go, even if they don’t know what the heck it is,” she said in an interview.
With reporting by Leena Latafat