During the day and at night, Pokemon Go players gather at shopping centers, parks, schools and other landmarks in the area to hunt for Pokemon, pocket monsters that range in abilities, power and status. By capturing Pokemon, the players can level up and once they reach level five they can begin battling with their Pokemon in virtual gyms, stationed at landmarks around Austin and San Antonio and cities and towns all over Texas, the country and the world.
Pokemon Go gets players off couches and out into the world. It is designed to encourage exercise. Players get more benefits from the game by walking miles and along the way they encounter Pokestops, where they can refuel on supplies like Pokeballs, the instrument used to catch the Pokemon.
Niantic Labs, a San Francisco-based startup spun off from Google, created the Pokemon Go app in cooperation with the Pokemon Company and Nintendo.
One of the reasons Pokemon Go has become such an instant hit is it’s similar to another game originally created by Niantic called Ingress, a high tech version of capture of the flags. That game also gets people out into the real world to walk, collaborate and capture landmarks.
1. Pokemon Go has strong ties to Austin. John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, received his Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. And Bill Kilday, vice president of marketing and live events for Niantic Labs and also a UT Austin graduate who received his bachelors in economics and MBA from UT, is based in Austin. And Austin had a huge gathering for the Ingress game a year ago, which Silicon Hills News covered.
2. San Antonio has nearly 3,000 people signed up to meet at the Alamo, Saturday night to hunt for Pokemon in the downtown area. The teams are divided into three groups, Valor, Mystic and Instinct, which are the three groups within the Pokemon Go game.
3. Businesses are embracing the Augumented Reality game, which brings people to their locations. They are creating specials, known as lures, to bring customers into their stores, bars and restaurants. NPR has a story on the business trend with Pokemon Go.
4. A man got robbed in Austin while at a bus stop playing Pokemon Go. There have been other isolated incidents involving crime around the country and world. But overall, for the millions of people playing the game, it is a safe, and fun outdoor activity.
5. Close to 3,000 people have signed up for the Facebook Group Pokemon Go: SA in about a week. And nearly 3,000 people have signed up for the Pokemon Go Austin Facebook Group. Both groups list special events to gather in real life for Pokemon Go players to meet each other.
6. Grace Herbert, an Austin police officer, is a level 21 player, and she is serious about catching them all, according to the Austin American Statesman.
7. Pokemon Go has taken over Austin bars and restaurants, according to Austin Eater.
8. Austin Animal Center is hosting a Pokemon Go party today to get dogs and cats adopted, according to the City of Austin.
9. Pokemon Go’s servers have been crashing occasionally, but they had a major crash this morning which sent players into a tizzy. A hacking group claimed responsibility for today’s attack, according to the Independent.
10. A map exists of Pokestops, gyms and rare Pokemon in San Antonio, according to the San Antonio Current.