Less than a week after it was released, Pokémon Go seems to be everywhere — including Lakeland. Pedestrians looking as much at their smartphones as the sidewalk roamed downtown on Saturday looking for “Pokéstops.” There’s already a Lakeland Pokémon group on Facebook. And Thursday’s Munn Park food truck rally will feature a tent where people can get Pokémon tips.
The game, released officially in the U.S. last Wednesday, is free for iPhone and Android users, but there are paid upgrades. It takes elements of the Pokémon video games of the 1990s and moves them to the real world.
As a result, some people praise the new game for getting people out of the house and walking around in parks and other scenic environments. Critics point to nefarious uses that have emerged, such as claims that robbers in Missouri lured victims via Pokémon Go.
Photographer David Dickey Jr. shot photos of Lakeland Pokémon Go users on Sunday night and posted them to Facebook but notes that the last two shots in his gallery are joke images:
And here are some photos posted to Instagram by photographer Mindy Wakeland using phone settings that let game players see Pokémon figures superimposed on real-life settings.
As with most platforms that go viral, marketers are finding ways to leverage Pokémon Go. Restaurateur Marco Franca told The Ledger he contacted game creator Niantic Labs to see how his not-year-opened Posto 9 can become a Pokéstop, a place where game players can collect items that help them advance their game.
And digital consultant Chrisanne Long of Maximize Digital Media said Pokémon Go discussions can help business owners connect with younger customers:
Get ready to hear more about Pokémon Go in the media. Sites such as Vox.com have rushed out Pokémon guides. As I write this, several thousand people are watching an NPR live Facebook broadcast about several Pokémon gyms (teams) battling for control of the area around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This WFLA report about Pokémon centers on Largo, but there’s a Lakeland connection. It’s introduced by anchor Jennifer Leigh, who’s from Lakeland:
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