One Month Deep in the PoGo

pogoIf there’s one thing people are even more tired of hearing about than Donald Trump, it’s Pokemon GO (PoGo). It features shallow gameplay and a simplistic battle system that has turned off a not-insignificant number of old school Pokemon players; even the flashiest feature, the augmented reality implementation that allows for Pokemon to be seen in the real world, improves the ease at which you catch Pokemon if it’s shut off. However—PoGo is not really a game.

As you’ve no doubt already read, the way in which PoGo takes our reality and uses it as a roadmap is revolutionary in that it compels us to explore by taking aspects of a travel guide, making it far more contemporary and adding multiple levels of reward, all wrapped up in a package that demands social iteration. Honestly, fun or not, to hell with PoGo itself—it’s the technology that will truly revolutionize the way we interact with our physical world in an increasingly digitized future. PoGo may be the very first mass (not the actual first) stumble into all of this, but there are many other parallel technologies under development. WaveRay, for example, is a bit of tech from a Swiss company that puts an augmented reality GPS interface in the windshield of your car, literally projecting your route onto the road.

But until that future comes, the major player involves capturing strange creatures, and even a month after its release the hubbub in Corvallis has yet to die down. While it’s easy to spot players (just look for people out in the bushes), how have our local businesses reacted to the trend? Are the rumors of crazed shopkeepers with shotguns cashing off Team Instinct goons true?

PoGo vs. the Corvallis Business Community
Not really. While some businesses chose not to respond (undoubtedly they were busy chasing Venonats off of their property), we heard back from some locals and the attitude ranged from positive to nonchalant.

“The thing I like about it in our neighborhood is that people who never get fresh air are out getting fresh air,” said Wendy Beck Nichols from Corvallis Floor Covering, whose business is located adjacent to a gym—diligently guarded by Team Mystic at the time of the interview.

Shawn Bonnichsea and Richard Dugan, two local players, emerged from behind the Spaghetti Factory a short while later, just after taking that gym for Team Mystic as well.

“LBCC is the only place I’ve received pushback. Security guards don’t like me playing it there,” said Bonnichsea.

Linn Benton Community College’s Public Security Officer, Adam Weaver, noted in a later interview that “nobody is allowed  [on campus] after 10 p.m. for liability reasons.” Campus is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., but after that, only security and custodians can be on site.

Back at the Spaghetti Factory, they have noticed PoGo as well, noting the increased number of people in the area.

“I see everyone walking by the river with their phones… one of my employees informed me this was a gym,” said Billy Brown, the manager.

Cyclotopia has remained fairly calm despite a gym being located outside their window.

“I haven’t noticed much, but people stopping outside,” said Trevor Heald.

Some businesses around Corvallis are even suspected of putting out lures for Pokemon that can be purchased or earned in-game. Lures “attach” to certain PoGo locations and attract Pokemon to the area for anyone to capture.

“Flat Tail will drop lures to bring people,” said Dre Oglesby, a player who was sitting outside the brewery. While a trip to Flat Tail yielded no admission of using lures in this way, it’s a damn clever idea and they should probably start.

PoGo vs. the PoPo?
The City of Corvallis Police Department has gotten involved, releasing a statement on its Facebook page that warns people to pay attention to their surroundings—and to not Pokemon and drive.

Lieutenant Duncan said that the Corvallis Police Department has received a few calls about people looking suspicious, but who ended up just being in search of Pokemon.

As for safety concerns, “It’s a matter of not getting so into your game that you don’t wander onto private property,” said Duncan.

Ghosts of Corvallis’ PoGo Future
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the game’s initial release was a beta, or a testing version. Its creator, Niantic, has stated that many changes are on the horizon, each roll-out of which will likely reintroduce a bit of the craziness of the early days. Of course, this being Corvallis, our players have been fairly well-behaved, but it’s surprising how slow local businesses have been to accept this trend as a revenue-generating source. But, hey, it’s been an exhausting summer.

Market of Choice, Dutch Bros., and some others have stuck signs out front letting people know about all of the wonderful Pokemon that can be found at their establishment, true or not, but as technologies like this become more commonplace we are sure to see more creative capitalizations by some of our favorite local haunts.

By Moriah Hoskins and Johnny Beaver