Pokémon Go explore your city



My childhood fantasy became a reality this summer after Pokémon Go officially launched across Canada. Pokémon was a beloved ‘90s TV show that inspired hard training, hard spending on Nintendo Games and playing cards to become a legendary Pokemon trainer.

With less than two months since the game’s Canadian launch, different generations of smartphone users have become enamoured with the augmented reality game.

Though some players have lost enthusiasm, many have realized the game is a rewarding way for people to explore their city.

On the first day of the game’s release, I discovered two Little Free Libraries within two blocks of my St. James home while searching for the dozen or so Rattatas in my neighbourhood.

My knowledge of Winnipeg landmarks, public sculptures, murals and statues exponentially grew. Although I don’t believe the artists or architects who created these works thought their work would be mobbed by virtual reality critters, people using these spaces has invigorated our city.

I can walk through Assiniboine Park, The Forks, downtown or the Exchange District and spot dozens of Pokémon Go players. These players come in packs, are solo travellers or are couples on dates that cost only time, not money.

And the upcoming changes that will allow trading between friends and trainers will soon break knowing head nods to possible conversation starters between strangers who are in love with the game.

It’s true that Pokémon Go is another reason for smartphone users to keep their heads tilted downwards and their gaze fixated on a glowing screen. It has also been the cause of many safety concerns and questionable Pokestop locations like Louis Riel’s grave or Stony Mountain Institution’s water tower.

But it has motivated us to leave our homes and walk, board, bike or drive to experience a different kind of community and camaraderie.

As Winnipeg’s weather moves into the colder months and the snow becomes a barrier to these public works or spaces, Pokémon Go will come to a complete halt for some. However, for those trainers dedicated to becoming the very best, like no one ever was – “all dreams are but another reality.”

Joy Balmana is a public relations major in Creative Communications.

Her free time is spent wandering around Winnipeg’s downtown galleries, other cites across the world, or her kitchen figuring out what to cook next.

See the world her way on Instagram at @byoj or hear what all that muttering is on Twitter @_byoj.