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Pokemon "Lure Party" planned for downtown

As many as 500 expected to participate in latest gaming craze.
20160729 Pokemon ro
Pokemon Go! craze hits Guelph.

The following story contains language that may be alien to some.

Pokémon Go has invaded Guelph, and it is about to get much worse/better, depending on your point of view.

A “lure party” – a kind of collective effort to catch as many Pokémon as possible - is planned for downtown Guelph next week.

While it is difficult to say just what this might look like, it will likely involve a considerable mob of people, and could generate a lot of business for downtown shops – at least for those that get into the action.

Pokémon GO! is described as a free-to-play, location based, augmented reality game. It was developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices, and released earlier this month. It has taken the gaming world by storm, and is fast becoming the most popular game in history.

The event is put on by Emil Smolders Videography, in collaboration with the Downtown Guelph Business Association. It’s shaping up to involve hundreds of people, with over 150 listed as “going” on the event’s Facebook page, and nearly 500 interested. Those numbers should climb over the next week.

“I've been getting a lot of engagement for the event and could expect over the 500 mark,” Smolders said in an email response. “I started promoting the event a week ago and it seems word has spread.”

He said he started the event to attract people to the downtown, and to enhance the experience of his fellow Pokemon GO! fans.

“I wanted to do this to get people to experience the downtown/culture, and let it serve as a pilot project for other cities to use as a marketing tool,” he said. “It is easy to scale and it costs only a few bucks to get a lure party started.”

Smolders has developed a mobile accounting app for local businesses called LocalXChange, and is developing software to help university students connect with their communities.

“I saw a major opportunity for the Pokemon GO! app in terms of attracting fans and friends to local businesses,” he said. “I see Pokemon GO! as something similar to social media and it wouldn't surprise me if it turns into an avatar based social network.”

Participants in the Aug. 6 lure party are encouraged to pack Lure Module, Incense, and Lucky Egg on their handheld. Insiders will know exactly what those Pokémon lures are.

It appears Downtown Guelph got on the GO wagon because of the potential benefit the party could have for downtown businesses. The Saturday, August 6 event starts at 4 p.m. in Market Square, 1 Carden Street, and runs until 7 p.m.

Montana Woolford Browne of Downtown Guelph said there will be two 'gyms' in Market Square for players to engage in Pokemon battles. In St. George’s Square there will be four “Pokestops” on each corner, she said. There will be a charging station at one of those stops.

She added that there will be Pokemon-themed face painting by Miss Kitty Facepainting and Entertainment in the square. The cost is $5.  

“Lastly, we hope to offer Pokemon themed goodies to treat the Pokemon Trainers,” she said in an email response. “Trainers are welcome to represent their team by wearing their team colour - blue, yellow, or red.”

There are some gaming guidelines, according to the event page. Players are asked to be mindful and respectful of their surroundings, to leave everything as you found it, and to stay out of areas that are clearly off limits or restricted.

While tens of millions around the world may be playing the game, the majority of humanity is not. So don't interfere with people not participating.

The organizers ask gamers to stay on paths and walkways, and not to wander onto roads. Observe traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, and be alert.

There have been a number of injuries to players reported around the world, most due to lack of attention to surrounding while engrossed in the game. People have fallen off bicycles, walked into glass doors, and have been struck by vehicles.

There are also some health risks associated with playing for hours at a time in the outdoors, including sunburn, blisters, sprains, and even broken bones.  


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Rob O'Flanagan

About the Author: Rob O'Flanagan

Rob O’Flanagan has been a newspaper reporter, photojournalist and columnist for over twenty years. He has won numerous Ontario Newspaper Awards and a National Newspaper Award.
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