MIAMI— Pokémon Go, a mobile game that has taken the world by storm, has added approximately $7.5 billion to Nintendo's net worth.
Pokémon, which stands for "pocket monsters," originally was released in 1996 for the Game Boy console and allows the player, called a Pokémon trainer, to catch the fictional creatures and train them for battle.
The goal of the game is to collect as many species of Pokémon as possible. Each species has its own special powers and abilities.
The pocket monsters can evolve after gaining experience points in battle, making them stronger with more attacks. Trainers battle their Pokémon in order to gain badges and become the ultimate Pokémon master.
The new augmented-reality game Pokémon Go allows the player to use real locations and combine it with the fictional characters. Players are often seen strolling around outside with their phones in the air to catch and store the Pokémon using red, black and white balls called Poké Balls.
The app is free to download and compatible with both Android and iPhone devices. The game tracks the player's location using GPS to create virtual maps of the real world. When catching a Pokémon, the game is set wherever the player is located by using the phone's camera, allowing the player to catch them literally anywhere.
The player is alerted when a Pokémon is near and have to travel to the monster's destination if they want to catch it. For example, water Pokémon are generally found around bodies of water.
PokéStops are public places that are designated in the game where trainers can meet, purchase supplies and find other Pokémon.
The game, released on July 6, can be very advantageous to the player. Numerous children, teens and adults are exercising more because the game requires the trainer to travel in order to find the monsters. The more the player travels, the better the chances of finding additional Pokémon.
All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Miami is a designated PokéStop in the game. Church members have noticed the trend in the game and how individuals keep gathering near the building.-
Jera Rendel, All Saints' administrative assistant, wanted to give back to the community and set up a free water station in front of the church Tuesday evening. After seeing numerous children and teens playing outside, she wanted to reward their behavior.
“I grew up in the neighborhood, and when I was a kid, we rode our bikes and ran around, but you never see kids outside anymore,” Rendel said. “In the last couple of days, I've seen kids out riding their bikes or walking around, and it's so hot. I asked the church what was going on and they told me we are PokéStop, which I had no idea what that was.”
After researching the game, she decided to place water bottles in a cooler to help keep players hydrated on their journey. Next to the foam cooler, surrounded by Poké Balls on sticks, is a handmade sign that reads “All Pokes Welcome Here!” and “We would like to help you stay hydrated on your hunt! Thanks for visiting the church with the red door. Come see us again, soon!”
The free miniature water bottles all have a Pikachu on them, a type of Pokémon, and “All Saints' Episcopal Church welcomes everyone! We would love to hear about your game progress! Come see us at 9:30 a.m. Sunday mornings.”
Rendel said approximately 10 water bottles have been taken since she put out the cooler.
Since the game's release, the Miami Police Department has not yet received any complaints as of press time, but would like to share advice to players.
“We haven't seen an increase in complaints,” Captain Todd Hicks said. “We figured we'd see an increase at night and people walking around or walking through people's yards, but we haven't seen it yet, but we expect it to happen.
“People need to be aware of their surroundings and these days, people are kind of nervous, and we'd hate to see somebody get hurt,” he added. “We haven't run into any issues yet.”
Missouri police said robbers are perching near attractive digital spots like PokéStops to rob players engrossed in the game. Police are also warning players not to trespass while playing.
Not all PokéStops are user friendly, like the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. Both landmarks have asked players not to play the game on their grounds.
Arlington Cemetery posted this comment on their Twitter on Tuesday.
“We do not consider playing 'Pokemon Go' to be appropriate decorum on the grounds of ANC. We ask all visitors to refrain from such activity.”
Holocaust Museum officials are currently trying to have the PokéStop removed from the game, Communications Director Andrew Hollinger said in a statement. He said playing the game inside a memorial to victims of Nazism is “extremely inappropriate.”
Another factor to consider is to not play the game while driving. On start up of the app, it clearly states “Remember to be alert at all times. Stay aware of your surroundings.”
The Associated Press contributed information to this report.
Kimberly W. Barker is a staff writer for the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MiamiNews_hound.