by David Mendez, Easy Reader
Around 10 o’clock Monday night, with his cell phone in one hand, a man called to his young son.
“Come here with me, help me catch Pokemon,” he said, holding his boy’s hand.
He saw a stranger smiling at him as the two walked. “Hey, it helps,” he said, shrugging.
The two were part of a crowd of people playing Pokemon GO on the Redondo Waterfront on Monday night; at least 60 people were spread along the Pier, the International Boardwalk and into the parking lots, collecting items and catching Pokemon.
The game, which was released on July 6, lets players search for the digital creatures in their neighborhoods, overlaying the game on an area map, using their mobile phone’s GPS. Landmarks in the real world are also often landmarks in the game, called PokeStops, providing players with items.
Two brothers, Duke and Bubba Robinson, were at Redondo Beach City Hall on Monday night, searching the area with their phones.
“There’s all sorts of stuff that I’ve never noticed before, like the Ten Commandments [monument],” Duke, 18, said. “It’s cool for people who are traveling; not just seeing the pier, but here’s what you can see at the pier.”
The two were living a childhood dream, Bubba, 20, said. “You’ve seen the TV show, and now you’re in the real world, finding Pokemon,” he said. “It’s like becoming a little kid again.”
But wandering in the real world with a phone in one’s face can have negative consequences. News reports from across the country have cited instances where distracted players have wandered into crosswalks. At least one driver was seen playing the game while driving through Torrance Circle near the Redondo Pier, the game’s audio blasting from his car speakers.
The Redondo Beach Police Department hasn’t had any incidents or calls related to the app, said Chief Keith Kauffman.
“But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to happen,” Kauffman said. “You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings; any time you’re distracted, whether you’re walking and texting or playing a game, or driving and messing with an electronic device, you’re increasing chances for an accident.”
The Beach Cities Health District is also skeptical of any health benefits one might take from playing Pokemon Go.
“Blue Zones Project teaches us that the world’s longest-living people spend very little, if any, time playing video games or engaging in other forms of sedentary ‘screen time,’” said BCHD CEO Susan Burden. “However, if forthcoming research supports the emerging theory that safe, moderate usage of Pokemon Go is helping nudge some people to exercise more and explore their community, then there could potentially be select health benefits in it for participants. But at this point, it’s far too early to tell.”
A few blocks away from the Robinson brothers, Justin Scott, Miguel Gonzalez and Krysta Olson were among the multitudes trying to catch ‘em all on the Redondo Pier. The pier itself is home to about a dozen PokeStops.
“Last night, people were running around in masses all over the place,” Scott said. “When I left around 3 a.m., people were still coming.”
Gonzales praised the game for getting players out and about, both physically and socially.
“It’s nice to see people that are interacting with each other as people and not walking past each other on their future-boxes,” Gonzales said, pointing at a cell phone. “Last night, we were at a Japanese market around midnight; people were standing outside, and a guy drove past, saying ‘Trying to catch ‘em all?’ It’s just nice to have social interaction with people again.”
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