Tons of video game fans accidentally got exercise this weekend thanks to the release of Pokemon Go, the augmented reality game that uses your phone to reveal just how monster-infested your neighborhood really is. It’s only been out a few days and yet already over the weekend, the streets were turned into living video game boards as hordes of people with phones glued to their faces, tried to capture another Zubat or Poliwag. It is truly one of the most unique and quickly spreading phenomena of modern gaming — it seemed to be the only thing anyone on the street was talking about or doing in my neighborhood yesterday.
Whether it’s a preview of an ominous future where all augmented reality will become our new reality (you still can’t afford to be a place in AR, probably) or a nice way to get people off their asses and out into public, it’s too early to say (it’s almost more popular than Twitter already though). But the speed at which it’s caught on among people of all age groups in Brooklyn means that yup, someone has already organized a north Brooklyn Pokemon bar crawl.
Jeff Ramos, a digital strategist who lives in Greenpoint, is organizing the crawl on July 23, starting at
Spritzenhaus [UPDATE: The crawl has a new starting spot; stay tuned to the Facebook page for updates], which is next to McCarren Park, where a Pokemon Gym is located (if none of these words make sense to you, you need to get off level 1 already jeez). The crawl goes down Manhattan Ave., on the way towards Transmitter Park, where there are apparently a lot of Pokesmon, with three gyms along the way. Bars on the crawl include Matchless, Enid’s, No Name, Sunshine Laundromat and Black Rabbit, plus donuts at Peter Pan.
Ramos told us he was into the app from day one; he works for gaming and entertainment site Polygon, where the app was buzzy even before it came out.
“I think it’s a big deal because whether you were a huge fan or not, Pokemon was and still is a huge part of our pop culture zeitgeist,” Ramos, 32, said. “Just about everyone knows who Pikachu is. And the idea of a location based, augmented reality game is interesting and novel enough in a time where smartphone ownership is at an all time high.”
— Jeff Ramos (@ohjefframos) July 10, 2016
The original Pokemon — both the card and Nintendo games and the cartoon show — is definitely a generational thing (for me, who turned 34 this year, I was already working on a job on the boardwalk by time the cards became a big hit boardwalk game prize for kids during one summer).
“I was huge into Pokemon when it first came to the US. I remember a friend who used to sell me batteries on the cheap every week because I burned through my Gameboy batteries so quick,” Ramos said. “We’d meet up during study hall and I would go nuts catching Pokemon before my next class.”
Pokemon Go, however seems to be crossing generational lines, probably because it’s the first major app of its kind to gamify walking around. Is there a chance the bar crawl turns into a drunken mess of people terrorizing the streets on the hunt for Pokeblood, like some sort of smartphone-enabled SantaCon (PokeCon)? Ramos isn’t worried about that … yet. He’ll write up some guidelines to hand to attendees before the event though just in case. He may buy a megaphone too.
“I’ve seen some general Pokemon Go meet ups with 25k folks interested in the event. I doubt we’ll have that many,” he said. “Part of me hopes it won’t be an issue. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that last night I did lay in bed and tried to figure out how I’d deal with any issues. I’d like to imagine that the cross section of people who like Pokemon and going out and having drinks means that they are nice, respectable people.”
The crawl is free, open to the public and a chance to meet some fellow Pokefriends. This actually seems to be one of the positive reactions to the game: neighbors are getting out and about and meeting each other on the streets in ways they’ve never done before.
“Walking through Brooklyn w/ kiddo & Pokemon Go today, I conversed w/ more strangers on NYC streets than I have since 9/11,” Nicky Agate wrote on Twitter. “Utopic dystopia?”
Whatever you call it, the facts are that it’s the thick of the summer, school’s out, times are tough in America right now and maybe we all are in need of some ways to augment our actual reality. Just be careful and don’t walk into traffic out there chasing a Pidgey, kids.
Here’s what Brooklyn’s Pokemania looked like this weekend:
Walking through Brooklyn w/ kiddo & Pokemon Go today, I conversed w/ more strangers on NYC streets than I have since 9/11. Utopic dystopia?
— Nicky Agⓐte (@terrainsvagues) July 11, 2016
Brooklyn was super alive late last night on my walk. Not because it was nice out, but because everyone was out playing Pokemon Go.
— Kayla Bibeau (@kaylabibeau20) July 11, 2016
Pokemon Go. For kids! And hipster parents in Brooklyn.
— Badtaglines (@badtaglines) July 11, 2016
When he drives you to Brooklyn Heights Promenade to Pokemon Go as the first date 😍❤️ pic.twitter.com/jOJjmODAKI
— Christine ✨ (@phamchristinee) July 11, 2016
— tyler (@lordpag) July 11, 2016
— Mr. Milk&Cereal♏ (@Tall_Midg3t) July 11, 2016
Genevieve is the best Pokemon Go player. Take that Brooklyn Hipsters. pic.twitter.com/UHF44rGATS
— Kurt Schrader (@kurt) July 11, 2016
pokemon go in brooklyn is meeting rando neighbors and kids hanging outside a closed chinese takeout place on a sunday morning
— Melissa Gira Grant (@melissagira) July 10, 2016
"This #PokemonGo seems kinda fun."
Me drunk on the streets of Brooklyn throwing my iPhone at a rat.
— JUNK FOOD PODCAST (@JUNKFOODPOD) July 10, 2016
— Luke Antony Neville (@NevNYC) July 11, 2016
Shout out to all the other white kids walking around Crown Heights with their phones out this beautiful morning. #PokemonGo
— Xander Jarowey (@XJarowey) July 10, 2016
— CA$H Montana (@cashmontana804) July 8, 2016
Walking in Brooklyn I was explaining what bit I understood of Pokemon Go to @Reilly_Brown & some dude passing by just yelled "POKEMON GO!"
— Danielle (@daniellegee) July 11, 2016
— AlyMew (@AlyMew) July 10, 2016
Can I borrow someone's dog so I don't look silly walking around Brooklyn playing Pokémon Go tonight?
— Jana Lynn French (@JanaLynnFrench) July 7, 2016