Pokemon Go has got the North County on the run
Local church sets up as, ‘Pokestop’
-Pokemon Go fever has swept the country, and North County is no exception. The game, which was released on July 6, already has 21 million active users. So what exactly is Pokemon Go? Who plays it? Pastors Liz and Ryan Radtke of Hope Lutheran Church in Atascadero had the same questions and decided to find out.
While downloading the extremely popular app for their kids, Pastor Liz noticed their church is a “Pokestop” point for the game. How it became one was a mystery to her. Researching, she found that, “Houses of worship are used as Pokestop points across the world, and maybe Niantic selected them.” Niantic is the company that owns Pokemon. Pastor Liz was thrilled to find Hope Lutheran Church was in on the game.
“When I realized that we were a Pokestop point, the thought came to me that this could be a way for families in the community to come together,” she said. Pastors Liz and Ryan put their heads together and decided to put a sign out in front of Hope Lutheran Church letting others know that they were a Pokestop point. “We offer Gatorade, juice boxes, water, snacks, and even sunscreen to other players as they search out Pokemons, especially in this hot weather.” According to Pastor Liz, the game is wonderful in that it gets the kids out of the house, urging them into nature hikes searching for Pokemons and into community stores and parks. It becomes, “A game the whole family can play together,” she says. “It introduces people of the community to one another that may not otherwise have ever met. As a Pokestop point, it brings people to our church, and if they want to talk about God and theology, we’re more than happy to talk about that, too!”
The object of the game is to find out where Pokemons are hiding, and they can be hiding anywhere across the world. Avatars are led through various maps and roads onscreen to selected Pokestop points via blue flags that are situated in the vicinity. When a Pokemon is near, a large wavelike blue circular disc pops up. This is how one knows a Pokemon is in the area and when located, it will pop-up on screen. When it appears, a Pokeball must be tossed at it. If the Pokemon swallows it, you’ve caught it! The Pokemon is yours.
Since the game is a worldwide phenomenon, the trail that leads to Pokemons is virtually endless. In the quest to find Pokemons, some trails throughout towns are physically walkable, but many must be driven to as the objects amass. If the trail leads to England, for instance, you’ll have to fly or sail and as we progress into space age, perhaps call Dr. Spock for advancement via the transporter.
Pastor Ryan of Hope Lutheran church mentioned that the Chief Police of Atascadero has sent out emails to the community asking them not to play Pokemon while driving and, even when walking, to please watch where they are going, as Pokemon requires constant eye contact with the phone screen. For more information about Pokemon Go gatherings at Hope Lutheran Church contact (805) 461-0340 and speak to Pastor Liz Radtke or Pastor Ryan Radtke.
Hope Lutheran Church is located at 8005 San Gabriel Rd. Atascadero. You can visit the church website at www.ourhopechurch.org.