There’s already two WhatsApp and two Facebook groups dedicated to the cause – Pokémon Go Witbank/Middelburg and Pokémon Go Middelburg – a collective of well over 200 players and growing.
And this is despite the fact that the official launch of the game is yet to take place in South Africa. According to the website www.pokemon.co.za, it is only scheduled to be released in this country on Friday 29 July.
The game has reunited long lost friends and helped meet new ones, according to avid gamer, Eben van Deventer. He is a Level 18 player, one of the highest in Middelburg.
According to Eben, a drive around town reveals several public points of interest that are Pokéstops or Gyms, places where players can get together to either collect items for their Pokemon or to battle other players.
“Players also drop lures, which attracts virtual creatures and is visible to other players who are close-by. When I see this I usually stop my car, jump out and catch a Pokémon or two,” he said. “I’ve met dozens of people this way, including a long lost friend who was my neighbour when I lived in Kempton Park many years ago”.
Places that are Pokémon hotspots include the Eastdene Civic Centre, Eastdene Mosque, The Presbyterian Church, Corpus Christi, and The Middelburg Mall. And there’s already social events being planned locally, with dozens of businesses showing interest in hosting lure events where players can get together and join teams to battle it out. Businesses are seeing the benefit of hosting such events.
“We’re planning to host an event within the next few weeks at Event City. And as a player I think many people would support and attend a social event where Pokémon Go players can interact and meet each other,” says Eben.
So far there has been over 75 million downloads of the game worldwide, and users have been advised to stay aware of their surroundings, refrain from playing the game whilst driving, and remember that smartphones are easy targets for criminals.
• To keep up-to-date with social events in Middelburg for Pokémon Go players, join the Facebook Group Pokémon Go Middelburg, and to join the WhatsApp group contact 082 412 2845.
• Pokémon Go is yet to become available on Google Play or the App Store. But this hasn’t stopped anyone. Android users have simply downloaded the APK file directly instead of through the Google Play Store. For iPhone users it’s a bit more complicated. Users have signed out of the App Store and signed back in with a different email, and changed the region/location to that of USA, Australia or New Zealand – where the game is already available. It still works perfectly with full functionality.
• Pokémon Go is a location-based, augmented reality game for mobile devices developed by Niantic for iOS and Android operating systems. It was released on the world in July 2016. Typically played on mobile phones, players use the device’s GPS and camera to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real world location as the player. The game is free-to-play, although in-app purchases are advertised for additional gameplay items.