Pokémon GO players get outside to catch them all

BIG RAPIDS – Pokémon GO has taken the mobile world by storm and has gotten area residents off their couches to get outside to their neighborhood sidewalks and trails looking for Pokémon.

Powerful and intelligent, Pokémon are cartoon creatures that have special abilities and are sought after by trainers seeking knowledge, fame or power.

Niantic, a Google affiliated software company, partnered with Nintendo to produce the augmented reality game with the goal of getting people with smart phones out of their houses and walking.

Community and historical sites around the United States have been marked in-game as “Pokéstops” where players can socialize and gain items to help them on their quest to catch more Pokémon. Many parks and churches in communities have been set up as “Gyms” where players can associate with their chosen team, train their Pokémon, trade with other players and capture the gym from other teams for rewards.

“At Pokéstops, players can set up a lure module that brings in Pokémon,” said Nick Killian, of Big Rapids. “Someone set up four of them right next to each other at Ferris State, so all you had to do was stand in one spot and catch the 20 Pokémon coming toward us.”

When the game is loading, the message screen cautions players to be aware of their surroundings. A few players around the country have already had harrowing "in real life" experiences with the game. One player in Wyoming found a body while searching for Pokémon near a river. Players in Missouri were robbed by four teens who staked out spots players walk to. If there’s a Pokéstop location that poses immediate danger, the game app provides a way for players to report the location to have it removed.

There are three different teams players can join, based on different traits modeled on their ideals. Team Instinct admires intuition, Team Mystic values wisdom and Team Valor believes in victory through strength. As of now, there’s no difference between the teams other than colors and players’ approach to the game.

“In the last 48 hours we’ve walked 14 miles,” said Katie Fouch, of Big Rapids. “I’m supposed to be studying for a final tomorrow, but instead I’m like, ‘Let’s go for a walk!’

“It’s a unique idea because it gets a lot of the typically more nerdy people who don’t want to go outside getting out and being social. You see them everywhere now,” she added.