Pokémon Go hits York – crazed fans roam the city trying to catch them all

Game addicts, left to-right: Craig Proudlock, Ashley Leivers and Jake Daley. Photograph: Jack Gevertz
13 Jul 2016 @ 8.32 pm
| Entertainment, News

It’s the game the world has gone potty for – and now it’s arrived in York.

Pokémon Go has seen crazed fans of the hit smartphone game roaming our ancient streets until their feet ache and their batteries are dead.

And some businesses in the city centre are reporting a boost in trade thanks to Pokémon Go, which allows players to trace, catch and train their own Pokémon monsters who are superimposed in the real world.

The Pokémon monsters seen ‘in’ York in these phone screenshots from the game
The Pokémon monsters seen ‘in’ York in these phone screenshots from the game

Officially only available in Australia, the United States and Germany some in the UK got their hands on it early.

Craig Proudlock and Ashley Leivers, both education studies students at York St John University, got the game as soon as they could.

Ashley said: “Everyone around us is playing it. We’ve walked past everyone, adults included. Even the local florists have been talking about it.”

How it works

Phone screenshots from a Pokémon game in progress in York
Phone screenshots from a Pokémon game in progress in York

They have been able to download it early by tricking their Android device or iPhone into believing they are in one of the countries where it is already available.

When it is first downloaded, users create an avatar. Then a map appears which shows where the player is currently located along with their local surroundings. Certain surroundings are also known as Pokéstops.

As players travel throughout the map, the avatar moves along with them and they encounter various different types of Pokémon. Some are only found near lakes and rivers for example.

When a player comes across falling leaves on their map, it means a Pokémon is nearby. By double pressing on their mobile screen, the phone displays a Pokémon as if it were there in the real world.

They can then catch it by throwing a Pokéball at the correct time using the correct force.

When players reach level five they can join the Pokémon Gym as part of one of three teams. Players can then lower the power of a gym by challenging the owner (if they’re not on the same team).

Once a gym is reduced to a zero rating, the attacking player can take control of it.

Gets you fit

They're lurking all over the city!!
They’re lurking all over the city!!

Craig, who lives on Foss Islands Road, said: “We’ve walked everywhere around York. So far we’ve caught Pidgey and Electabuzz just outside of town. But unfortunately we haven’t caught a lot of rares yet.

“Museum Gardens has had a lot of people in it and it has a lot of Pokémon.

“It has a gym. A gym we had for a little bit, so there are lots of people congregating there.”

One of the other gym locations on the game is the Waggon and Horses pub in Lawrence Street.

Landlord Tom Renshaw told YorkMix that he heard he was one of the game’s gyms “just this morning”.

He said:

One of our breakfast waiters explained this to me.

But apparently you do not need to actually come in to enter it, so we’ve been mulling about outside to see if anyone has actually stopped.

I’ve not got the game yet. I have not got a lot of time to play it, but I’m from the generation that missed Pokémon in the first place.

Businesses in the city are already reporting a potential boost in customers thanks to the game, which does not currently have an official UK release date.

Michael Sheppard, one of the partners of the Winner Winner bar and grill on King’s Staith, downloaded the game on its US release date five days ago.

A tweet put out on July 11 said: “Busy day catching Pokemon! Why not refuel at Winner Winner! Oh and Kings Arms is a Pokestop! #PokemonGO #York.”

He said: “One of my waitresses told me that we had a few groups who had come to eat here before going out to play the game.

“They saw our tweet we put out so they came here beforehand and then went out and eat. It has happened a few times over a few days where people are coming in to eat and then going out and playing the game together.”

Playing the game alongside Craig and Ashley is Jake Daley, who lives and works in York.

He said: “It’s amazing what it’s done for the community. It has brought so many people together.

“I’ve met more people in York than at any time when I have lived here.

“There were 25 of us walking around York until 10pm last night catching Pokemon, and we were playing it until our batteries died.”