Hunting Pokemon Go characters in Windsor parks addicting

Gamers are downloading a working version of the app through an external host and hitting Windsor parks and landmarks on a virtual hunt.

'My entire day is revolving around it because I just want to catch more Pokemon'

Pokemon Go online craze has gamers walking around Windsor parks on a virtual hunt. (Laura DaSilva/CBC)

The Pokemon Go craze has hit Windsor, Ont. in a big way, even though the game is just days old and technically unavailable in Canada.

Gamers are downloading a working version of the app through an external host and hitting local parks and landmarks on a virtual hunt for Nintendo characters like Psyduck and Pikachu.

Reports of people getting into odd situations have come from all over the world, including in Riverton, Wyoming, where a teenager found a dead body while hunting for a Pokestop.

Windsor gamers, like Daksh Patel, say the game is highly addictive.

"It's like my entire day is revolving around it because I just want to catch more Pokemon," he told CBC News. "All I can think about is the perfect time I should go, so I can charge my phone, play a couple of hours, then go back, eat something, charge my phone and play more."

Hunt consuming free time

Patel is definitely not alone. It's been easy to spot people walking around Windsor's riverfront using their smartphones in search of Pokemon characters.

Groups of Windsor residents playing the new Pokemon Go virtual video game are easy to spot on the riverfront.

The latest version resurrects the popular video game of 20 years ago, but with a new twist. Using GPS technology the app can read where the user is located and then creates Pokemon to capture.

Released just a week ago, the online game has become a global sensation. Even though the game has not been released in Canada, Pokemon fans have managed to download it anyway. 

This social trend could turn dangerous, warns one Windsor addictions counsellor. Jennifer Forfitt said she's noticed kids from her neighbourhood cross the street without looking — because they were trying to catch a Pokemon.

Even social games like Pokemon Go can lead to addiction or feelings of isolation, she explained. It doesn't take long to become digitally dependent and lose touch with reality.

"Spending too much time on the screen, we're not taking care of ourselves physically or emotionally," Forfitt told CBC News. "Our life isn't 100 per cent of the game. There are other things we can be doing."

"It's one thing to be playing the game for fun. It's another to let it take over our lives," she said.

A social hunt? 

For some, Pokemon Go is getting them outside and introducing them to new friends.

Patel met Grant Webster while out playing the game on the waterfront Monday. They were back in the park Tuesday.

"It gets you out, you're social with friends, you meet new friends," Webster said. 

And the crowds are growing in Windsor parks. 

"Everyone with their phone out that's walking here, is basically playing Pokemon," Patel said. "Yesterday, we found so many groups. It was just insane."

Here's how you play:

  • Fire up the game and start trekking to prominent local landmarks — represented in the game as "Pokestops" — where you can gather supplies like Pokeballs.
  • Walk around until you find Pokemon and then fling Pokeballs to try and capture them for training.
  • At other locations called "gyms" — which may or may not be actual gyms in the real world — Pokemon battle one another for supremacy.

With files from Canadian Press