THREE OF THE MOST AWESOME PLACES IN LONDON TO CATCH POKEMON....and why this game has the whole world in a playing frenzy.
So here is something I never EVER thought I would be doing...little alone writing about. I am playing a new game on my phone ...Pokémon Go... AND I am just saying I might be a tad blown-away. Not only is it addictive the game itself is revolutionary creating a whole different and personal gaming experience the world has never seen. Maybe I did have a little bit of a Sims City "problem" back in the day but just saying I was not alone and man I am not alone with this. I do want to explain before the judging starts to kick in (WHICH SHOULD BE ABOUT NOW!!) I have a 18 year old stepson. Enough said, right? Actually no.
POKEMON GO...WHAT THE HELL IS IT?
First for those who have been hidden from all television news or any social media let me quickly and simply explain. It is a location based augmented reality game you play on your phone. These virtual creatures called Pokémon appear on your screen as if they are in the same real world you are in using your phone's camera. You then throw Pokéballs at them trying to capture them, then evolve them and eventually battle in a gym. There is more to this game than that but for the purposes of this blog that is basically all you really need to know.
Here is the incredible WOW bit. In the few short weeks since the game's release the success has been an unprecedented phenomenon becoming one of the most used mobile apps worldwide and that is in less than a month. Ninetendo shares have skyrocketed . Players are taking it to the streets, malls and parks in huge masses hunting for these little creatures. It actually gets the gamer off sofa in their parent's basement, outside and rewards them by hatching eggs with valuable Pokémon when they walk 2, 5 or 10K. Are you with me so far? Sadly some of these "gaming" kids who are strangers to outdoor activity are walking into traffic...LOOK UP PEOPLE!!!!
In London, offshoots to this craze have popped up over night. Private tours have been launched with promise of finding rare Pokémon. Pokémon cruises on the Thames, Pokémon Friendly Cafes, group websites and live Twitter feeds on where rare Pokémon are spotted have triggered actual stampedes. It is insane. But it is not just London. In all the cities that the game has been launched the frenzy is the same. Watch this video of Central Park New York when someone spots a rare Pokémon. Who knew this demographic of nerdy XBOX/Call Of Duty junkies could move so fast. If I had come across this scene I would have thought the city was being attacked and everyone was fleeing.
Apps have already been created (AND shut down) to help locate where these Poké are hiding. But currently still active is Go Radar (for now). That helped us to be able to find where the interesting ones were lurking.
So with an 18 year old boy in tow, two external battery chargers and comfortable shoes we went out on an vast excursion across London to hunt us some Pokés.
THE TOP THREE PLACES IN LONDON TO FIND POKEMON
Number 1. TOWER OF LONDON & TOWER BRIDGE
Can you imagine playing a game like this where your playing field is such an iconic landmark as Tower Bridge? What other cities could boast to something like that? You don't have to go too far from here to find them little critters, they are spawning everywhere. Just be careful you don't fall into the Thames while trying to catch them.
Rumour is there is a very rare Pokémon that hangs out by the Royal Jewels inside the Tower of London but you will have to pay to take the tour if you are looking to add that one to your Poké scorecard. I will go out on a limb and say that whomever that little Poké is hanging around all those diamonds and emeralds has got to be a girl.
Second for Pokémon spawning ... REGENT'S PARK.
Unlike Tower Bridge and Tower of London you have a lot more walking to do to catch you some critters. But that is a good thing. With all that walking you can hatch yourself a Poké egg. We had researched that the London Zoo inside Regent's Park had a diverse variety of Pokés.
Many a rare Poké have been reportedly caught at this park... particularly in and around the zoo. In fact, within minutes of us walking in the park we were told about some mammoth, high-score, rare Poké by some gamer on a bike who sadly pegged me immediately as a player. This will need to be thoroughly addressed another time. Frustratingly we had some system failures (which has been a big problem with the game) just AFTER paying out almost $100 to get into the zoo with only an hour before closing. We did however manage to find a few hanging out with the lemurs.
NUMBER THREE (according to my research)... BUT MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, HOLLAND PARK
My favourite spot in London to truly experience the whole gaming Pokémon phenomenon has to be Holland Park. This is where you not only see and catch some interesting creatures, but it is clear you have stepped into a generational world that is even more bizarre and interesting than the one on your phone. There were hundreds and hundred of gamers in the park, speaking a language I actually understood (well most of it). I felt like I was part of some massive cult or nerdy private club.. well nerdy private "boys" club. For every hundred guys I saw maybe two women. Actually to be more accurate, they were girls. I was the only person I saw outwardly playing by a clear age margin of a generation. Wasn't sure if that made me cool or a geek (I think I know the answer to that question) but I had the confidence to tell myself I was researching something very current and important for my tens and tens of readers. You are welcome.
For those looking for More "GO" in London there are many links to sites telling of Pokémon sitings and spawnings. I personally liked the Time Out piece. A far more detailed account of where to find what Pokémon where.
As I ended my Poké Extravaganza I have to tell I was totally impressed. The technology was incredible, the frenzy contagious and you know looking back years from now it will have left a generational mark of something that changed the course of how we play. And to think my generation was all excited about Pet Rocks? Collecting these Pokémon was like a giant, exciting, worldwide scavenger hunt and who doesn't like a scavenger hunt? So if you have nothing to do this weekend tell your kids you want to take them to the park. Hell, who are you kidding, there are likely there right now without you.
Now can someone tell this Drowzee to back away from the rosé! This Pokémon has just crossed a serious boundary!!!