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GAME | POKE-MANIA 

A new game of old characters transfixes the nation, and Spokane

click to enlarge Tyler Zoesch (left) and Daniel Moreno on the hunt for Pokémon Go characters at Riverfront Park. - ANDRA MOYE
  • Andra Moye
  • Tyler Zoesch (left) and Daniel Moreno on the hunt for Pokémon Go characters at Riverfront Park.

In 45 minutes, we caught a Psyduck, Diglett, Growlithe, Drowzee, Spearow, Pidgey, Krabby and even more of their fellow Pokémon denizen.

The Pokémon are plentiful in downtown Spokane's Riverfront Park — so much so that the park's Canada Island has been nicknamed "Pokémon Island" by locals camping out there for hours to catch the elusive creatures.

In the past few weeks, the newly released Pokémon Go mobile game has blown up, capturing the collective attention of everyone from twentysomethings who grew up with the cartoon and game franchise to the next generation of young Pokémon trainers. For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go uses Google Maps and augmented reality technology to place the imaginary creatures at real-world locations, which players can "catch" using their device's camera. The goal? Collect all 151 Pokémon creatures (including some ultra-rare species), train and level them at Poké Gyms and battle with other players.

In the Inland Northwest and across the world, the game has been lauded for luring indoors-only types outside to parks, businesses and other public places, forcing them to meanwhile log some physical activity. Downsides of the viral game have included some jerks luring unsuspecting players to areas where they've become victims of crime, along with some less-attentive players sustaining bodily injury while on their quest to "catch 'em all."

In Riverfront Park last Wednesday afternoon, Pokémon Go fans were easy to spot, heads bent down and phones held outward as they meander around the paved trails on their quest.

"I like how it's bringing a bunch of people together," says Jacob Hansen, spotted catching some Pokémon near the Looff Carrousel with two other friends.

"I hadn't seen him since what — early high school? And I just ran into him down here," he says of his pal, Kiel Frey. "This wouldn't have happened if not for this game. I think it's really cool. It's getting everyone out of their houses and down here," Hansen summarizes. — CHEY SCOTT

Check out our video of Riverfront Park's Pokémon Go scene at Inlander.com.

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