Dressing up as their favourites creatures from the game, more than 350 ‘trainers’ will hit Preston’s streets and parks all to play new world-wide gaming phenomenon, Pokemon Go.
It’s all part of a ‘pokewalk’ event starting in Winckley Square and organiser Thomas Walton says he didn’t expect it to be so popular.
”We wanted to bring people together, have fun and play the game, but we didn’t expect it to get quite so big,” Thomas said. There’s more than 300 people who’ve said they’re going on Facebook but 600 more have said they’re interested.”
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The game has taken the world by storm with it being installed on more Android smartphones in the US than the smash-hit dating app Tinder, according to data from website SimilarWeb.
For those that don’t know, here’s how it works: As you walk around, reality is viewed through your phone screen as almost – but not quite – the same as it is with your bare eyes.
If a Pokemon happens to be lurking nearby, your phone will buzz. Then it’s time to catch it by throwing a Poke ball - on your phone, not in reality.
And this Pokemon hunt will start in Winckley Square before going around Avenham Park, then along Fishergate and finally to Roper Hall pub for a drink or two.
Pokemon first became popular in the 90s and Thomas has hit back at critics who say adults shouldn’t be playing.
“I think the game is amazing,” said the 27-year-old from Penwortham. When it first came out I spent 11 hours playing the game in Southport and Blackpool. I loved the game when I was eight-years-old and I think it’s just people’s inner child enjoying the game again. I don’t really care what people think, it’s very addictive and I think everyone’s just having fun.”
And the Papa John’s delivery driver has racked up some serious numbers since the game came out in the UK last Thursday, but admits if he hadn’t been playing the game he would have been sat at home on his Xbox.
In just seven days, Thomas has walked 30 miles using the game, catching around 100 Pokemon and according to an online calorie estimator, 30 miles would burn 3000 calories for a 13 stone person.
But there’s also been widespread criticism about the safety of the game, with gamers being seen walking in roads and restricted areas in their quest to catch the creatures.
“That’s why we’ve chosen plenty of locations away from busy roads and in the parks,” Thomas said. “I’ve made sure to post on the Facebook group for people to also be aware their surroundings and to stay safe when playing the game.”
The Pokewalk takes place on Saturday, July 30 starting at 2pm in Winckley Square and finishing at Roper Hall pub at 6pm. Fancy dress is optional.