Pokemon Go: Urge to 'catch them all' has players trespassing with strangers
City landmarks have unwittingly become battlegrounds for the Nintendo game
The tiny, exotic monsters of the Pokemon Go universe have invaded Edmonton.
They could be lurking in the streets, down the alley. Even under your stairs.
In an urge to "catch them all," local players have ended up in strange and unexpected places.
"It's a game where you can pretty much be walking down the street, sitting on the toilet, or pretty much anywhere, and you hear a little vibrate on your phone," Kimberly Trainor, a huge fan, said during an interview on CBC Edmonton's Radio Active.
"You open it up and, bam! There's a Pokemon to catch. So you go ahead and catch that Pokemon and start building your collection."
Although the "augmented reality" game has not been officially released in Canada, Trainor and hundreds of other local players have used a series of "backdoor" downloads to get in on the action.
"This is the game I've been dying for since I was 10 years old, and I think a lot people in my generation would agree with that," said Trainor.
"Just catching Pokemon, no matter where you go, that's my jam."
The Nintendo app uses Google Maps and the camera on your smartphone to help you track down and catch the creatures, which appear as a kind of hologram on the screen.
Once you nab them with a Poke ball, you can train them to battle each other at designated battlegrounds, called gyms.
And as the search for pocket monsters continues, these battlegrounds are being mapped out in the strangest places, including the West Edmonton Mall, the legislature grounds, Oliver Park, and inside city hall.
Hundreds of landmarks and local businesses, unwittingly put on the map, have been bombarded with trespassing players.
A church near Autumn Deighton's house has become one hotspot, and has been contested territory ever since, with players defending their claims around the clock. (For example: Two players visit a gym. Their Pokemon battle over the territory, and the winner claims it. But another player can show up and contest it.)
"I just battled at that gym today, and there were three people there trying to take it back immediately," said Deighton.
"You can go to this gym and you can battle the Pokemon, and it's interactive. Basically, you're tapping on your screen, attacking."
The smartphone game has proved hugely popular, with dozens of player groups cropping up online. Some organize mass outings to defend their territories and expand their collections. There is even a map of all the locations in Edmonton.
"I think it's because of the interactive part of it," said Deighton. "You're meeting people and actually going out and being active, instead of sitting on your computer. Instead of sitting on your console, you're actually walking outside to who knows where."
Deighton said the game is insanely addictive. She has lost track of how many hours she has spent looking for rare and exotic species of Pokémon.
"Aww, too much time. I'm actually going to West Ed later and meet up with a whole bunch of trainers. I don't know these people, but, hey," said Deighton. "I've lost seven pounds. I've walked 30 kilometres in the last little bit."
She has no doubt the Pokemon craze will be around for a long time.
"I think it's going to take a very long time until it dies out. This is just the beginning."