On Wednesday, I was walking the trails at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve with Robert Benitez, of the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, when we came upon a group of more than 20 people on the trail all looking at their phones.
“Pokémon Go,” Robert whispered.
“Huh?” I asked.
And he was right. Although these people ranging from children to older adults were enjoying the Preserve’s nature, they were also enjoying one of its lesser known qualities: an abundance of Poké stops.
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality mobile game that was first released in 2016. Players use their phone’s GPS to locate, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon. On the players’ phones the Pokémon can look as though they are in the same location as the player.
So at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve, for instance, players can find and capture all kinds of Pokémon creatures as they wander the trails.
The free game has more than1 billion downloads worldwide as of February 2019, and has 147 million monthly active users as of May 2018, according to Wikipedia.
As the players at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve broke up from an intense battle, I asked Rebecca Warner, 23, of Lancaster, about why she was there.
The geology student explained there was a special Pokémon event that evening that allowed the players the opportunity to catch a rare legendary Pokémon, a fish-like creature called Kyogre. Plus, she liked playing Pokémon at the Preserve.
“This is a very concentrated area for the gyms,” Rebecca said. “I can walk from one gym to another, instead of driving to find other gyms, and it’s a nice relaxing environment.”
Also, during special Pokémon events, not only do her friends show up after texting each other, but other players they don’t know show up, too.
“You have lots of chances to make new friends,” she said.
Later, on a different trail, I joined them in a battle for Kyogre. While I didn’t catch the legendary fish, I did have fun with a great group of people. (See photo at top.)
Who knew? You can have your Preserve, and Pokémon, too!