‘Pokemon Go’ takes over Las Vegas as players race to ‘catch ‘em all’

Who knew that imaginary creatures could create such a real-life ruckus?

It’s been a week since “Pokemon Go,” a free smartphone-based game app, was released. And ever since, legions of fun-loving Southern Nevadans have braved the oppressive heat to join other Americans with way too much time on their hands to chase Pokemon in parks, on city streets, in offices and wherever else the wily critters might turn up.

We first met Pokemon during the early 2000s, when the Japanese import came to America in the form of video games, trading cards and animated TV shows and movies.

The simple premise: Players capture free-range Pokemon and train them to fight other trainers’ Pokemon. What sets “Pokemon Go” apart from most other popular smartphone games is that it uses a phone’s camera and geolocation ability to place illustrated Pokemon into real-life backgrounds. Players use their phones’ screens to approach Pokemon appearing around them and then throw a virtual ball at the creatures to ensnare them.

small pic description goes here

The smartphone’s screen also directs players to real-life places — businesses, parks, shops, local landmarks — designated as sites where players can replenish their supply of virtual balls and train their creatures in virtual gyms.

Already, there’s been ample Pokemon-based evidence to support the “this is why we can’t have nice things” theorem. In Missouri, robbers reportedly used the game to target players. Social media sites have featured photos of Pokemon appearing in hospitals and a funeral. Earlier this week, an official of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., even felt compelled to point out to visitors that playing the game there is inappropriate.

Pokemon hunters here seem to be behaving so far, although Las Vegas police did tweet out a reminder Wednesday that players “be mindful of your surroundings and respectful of the locations you visit.”

The tweet included a photo of a Pokemon character captured at Metro’s headquarters. Police spokesman Officer Larry Hadfield said the tweet wasn’t in response to an incident but, rather, a way “to show that police have a sense of humor as well.”

However, the message is real, Hadfield said, reminding drivers, too, that playing “Pokemon Go” while driving “is still illegal due to the fact you’re using a smartphone. You can’t tell an officer, ‘I was looking for Pokemon in my car.’ ”

Clark County School District spokeswoman Nicole Santero isn’t aware of any district facilities that have become Pokemon-hunting hot spots. And, she said, use of the game by students would fall under the same policies that cover the use of cellphones at schools.

Benjamin Burroughs, assistant professor of emerging media at UNLV, said “Pokemon Go” isn’t the first augmented reality game, but it is the first game of its kind to have “broken through to wider, mainstream recognition in popular culture.”

One reason for the game’s popularity is its social nature. While “Pokemon Go” can be played alone, it’s more fun when played with others.

“Pokemon Go” rebuts the image of gamers as isolated creatures, “the stereotype of mobile devices making us all socially awkward,” Burroughs said. “On the contrary, this game is getting people out of their homes, collecting (and) battling and being social.”

“It’s not just Pokemon fans that are doing this,” he added, but “a wide, broad range of people and ages coming together to play this kids’ game, and that is the power of games and social media.”

While players can delve into Pokemon mythology — whose complexity and character names make a Russian novel seem like beach reading — the basic story is simple enough for newcomers to understand.

At the same time, “Pokemon Go” avoids alienating longtime fans by staying faithful to traditional Pokemon mythology, Burroughs said.

Pokemon fan Julia Rudolph said she “grew up watching the show and collecting the cards” and even today plays Pokemon cards and video games. She likes it that “Pokemon Go” is “a free app and easy to use. Anyone who has never even played Pokemon can grasp it.”

Burroughs said the popularity of the app — one estimate earlier this week had “Pokemon Go” racking up more than 7.5 million downloads in the U.S. — indicates the general acceptance of “social gaming” as gaming apps become more common and culturally relevant.

Pokemon can be found just about everywhere. Urban branches of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District are Pokemon-related sites. Jennifer Davies, city of Las Vegas spokeswoman and social media manager, said Lorenzi Park and Ralph Lamb Park at Tule Springs are places to catch water-based Pokemon, while artwork that hangs in the lobby of the Development Services Center near Rancho Drive and Bonanza Road is a Poke stop. (The city has a gallery of downtown Pokemon sites at cityoflasvegas.tumblr.com.)

Some businesses are playing along, too. Ralph Mathieu, co-owner of Alternate Reality Comics, 4110 S. Maryland Parkway, said he doesn’t stock Pokemon stuff in his store beyond “a few books.”

Then, late last week, “someone came and just told us out of the blue our (store) is a (“Pokemon Go”) gym,” he said.

The store’s unexpected role in the game has attracted a few players who bought “a couple of things,” said Mathieu, who hopes the shop’s newfound Pokemon celebrity will “spread the word” about it.

If Pokemon hunting conjures up a thirst, the Silverton is offering $2 draft beers to “Pokemon Go” players through Sunday at its Mermaid lounge, which also is a Pokemon stop.

Kimiko Peterson, Silverton’s director of communications, learned Monday that there are four Pokemon stops on the property. By the end of the day, the Mermaid lounge promotion — players can score drafts by showing the bartender the “Pokemon Go” screen on their phones — was on the hotel’s Facebook page.

But it’s easy to overthink America’s summertime bout of Pokemania. Maybe “Pokemon Go” is just a fun excuse for people to run around outside to meet other people and be distracted from a summer that so far has been kind of depressing and stressful.

The game does seem to create “a friendly atmosphere,” Peterson said, with “people acting social and talking to each other and communicating on a different level than they would have before.”

Monday morning, while walking her dog and looking at her phone to see if any Pokemon were nearby, Peterson looked across the street and saw a few fellow walkers doing the same thing.

“It was,” she said, “almost like an icebreaker.”

Read more from John Przybys at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com and follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.


Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Life Videos
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Army medic’s Afghanistan story told in new book
The graphic novel “Machete Squad” is based on journals written by Las Vegan Brent Dulak.
Las Vegas man talks about losing his wife
Dwayne Murray, 37, lost his wife, LaQuinta while she was at Centennial Hills Hospital. A jury awarded him $43 million last week after it said the hospital failed to perform the standard of care in administering a drug for her sickle cell disease.
Barber sets up shop in grandfather’s old shop
Andres Dominguez’s new barber shop is filled with memories of his grandfather, who ran the El Cortez landmark for more than 30 years. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Home Front Page Footer Listing