The group of residents have been walking for nearly an hour, ever searching, knowing that the moment they take their eyes off the device their prey could evade them.
Pokémon could be hiding anywhere.
“It was great, I loved it,” said 91-year-old Kay Bergrie, a resident at Cedarvale Lodge. “I found two Pokémon. One of them just as I was coming out of the building, and the other one was around the building – and Tina [another resident] was just so devastated because she went all the way around and she never got one.”
Pokémon Go, the summer’s smash-hit smartphone game arrived at Cedarvale Lodge Retirement Residence in Keswick only nine days after its release in Canada. Since then, it’s gained popularity and found its way onto the activities calendar. It’s also been added onto group outings, such as a recent picnic.
“Everybody who tried it was talking about it,” Kay said.
Emily Curcuruto, lifestyle consultant at Cedarvale Lodge, first thought of introducing the game after residents asked her about it.
“They’ve been asking about it because they keep hearing about it in the news. They were really, really curious about it, and I was just like ‘alright, let’s go Pokémon Go-ing’.”
Emily downloaded the game onto her smartphone and approached Kay and her friends the next day. The five friends were quickly drawn into the game, and all of them took a turn catching Pokémon.
“I really wasn’t that interested in the game until the residents were asking me questions about it and seemed really eager and excited when I said we would play,” Emily said. “Then I thought about what a great learning and bonding opportunity it would be for the residents and myself to conquer this game together.”
One problem they ran into with conquering the game was that there isn’t a PokéStop close enough for the residents to get to. In Pokémon Go, PokéStops are places where you can pick up essential Pokémon items, such as Poké Balls, which you throw to catch Pokémon. If you don’t have any Poké Balls, catching Pokémon is impossible. Luckily, Emily has a PokéStop just outside of her condo, so she can pick up Poké Balls on her way home.
Pokémon Go features the same 151 characters that appeared in the original Game Boy games, giving it a high nostalgia value for anyone who grew-up in the 90’s. Due to its popularity, the original game had a variety of equally popular adaptations including various movies, comic books, a trading card game, and a cartoon series that is still running today.
Emily played the game when she was younger, and her favourite Pokémon was Squirtle. She’s been trying to find Pokémon hotbeds for the residents to visit, and hopes that as they go on more outings they’ll find more.
“I think it’s more interesting,” Kay said when asked how Pokémon Go compared to the games she played as a kid. “Because you have to seek first. You have to find the Pokémon first... So it makes it more interesting. I was just fortunate they stayed around the building.”
“I like to play it when there are a few people and we’re all walking together,” Kay said. “You see the Pokémon come up on the phone and it’s great fun.”