WILMINGTON — Look all around Clinton County and everywhere else in the nation, and you’ll see youths and adults playing “Pokemon Go.”
It’s suddenly more popular with U.S. Android users right now than tweeting, binge watching TV on Netflix, or listening to music on Pandora or Spotify.
The game uses GPS coordinates and requires players to travel to places and simply walk around in order to find Pokemon to catch.
Locally, groups of children were spotted Friday afternoon playing the game in downtown Wilmington and at J. W. Denver Williams Jr. Memorial Park.
“I wish I would have taken pictures, they have been crawling everywhere,” said Lori Kersey Williams, director of the Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department. “They’re crawling all over as we speak.”
Williams said at first she was confused and asked people if they were looking for a bathroom. Now, she asks those who come to fish if they’re looking for Pokemon.
Many of those at the park, Williams said, are people she hasn’t seen there before. A gym, a place where players can battle each other, happens to be located at the park and might account for some of the attention.
While the Ohio State Highway Patrol tweeted a message about not driving and trying to catch Pokemon, and others have gotten hurt while not paying attention, Williams said those at the park have done so safely to date.
“I haven’t seen anyone get hurt or fall in the pond,” Williams said. “I think on foot is the best way to play it, and I think the park is a good place to play it.”
Effects in Ohio
Pokemon Go seems as popular in Ohio as everywhere else — for better or for worse.
In Ohio, police say two “Pokemon Go” players were arrested Thursday afternoon for criminal trespassing at the Toledo Zoo.
Police say the two went over a fence near the zoo’s tiger enclosure in search of the smartphone game’s cartoon monsters.
They were spotted on a zoo security camera and were walking through the zoo when they were caught early Thursday.
But on the more positive side, a political group in swing-state Ohio is using the game “Pokemon Go” for a purpose beyond catching cute Pikachu: registering voters.
NextGen Climate Ohio, a group drawing attention to climate change, says the rollout is just one of the creative ways it’s trying to engage millennial voters. It comes just days before the two political conventions get under way.
State director Joanne Pickrell is dropping rare “lures,” which draw the cartoon monsters hunted by “Pokemon Go” players, at game locations in parks and on campuses in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo. Its representatives will be on site at the locations to talk to players about the importance of voting and how to get registered.
Planned locations include the University of Toledo Friday and, on Saturday, parks in Cleveland and Columbus and at Mirror Lake on the Ohio State University campus.
By the numbers
The usage data on Pokemon Go is based on research from the digital market intelligence firm SimilarWeb, which looked at daily active user rates for the popular apps.
On Monday, 5.9 percent of all U.S. Android users played the game. In comparison, 4.1 percent used Twitter’s app on the same day. “Pokemon Go” has also passed Pandora Radio, Netflix, Google’s Hangouts and Spotify Music in terms of daily active users, the company said.
But the game still trails other popular apps such as Facebook Messenger, (22.1 percent), Instagram (13.1 percent), WhatsApp (10 percent) and Snapchat (8.3 percent).
“Pokemon Go”’s overall installation rate of 10.8 percent of all U.S. Android phones still trails the rates of Twitter, Netflix, Hangouts, Pandora and Spotify. For example, Twitter and Spotify posted installation rates of 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
Authorities say two men who were playing “Pokemon Go” fell off an ocean bluff in Southern California.
Encinitas firefighters say the men climbed through a fence Wednesday afternoon while playing the digital-monster cellphone game. One man fell about 50 feet down the side of the unstable bluff and the other fell about 90 feet to the beach.
They were taken to a hospital with moderate injuries.
Long Island police say a 19-year-old man had his smartphone stolen while he was playing “Pokemon Go” on it Wednesday evening.
A car with at least three people pulled up alongside him. One of the passengers told the victim to give him his cellphone. When the victim hesitated, another passenger showed him a gun and demanded the phone. The victim then handed over the phone and took off.
Police are investigating but no arrests have been made.
A man is recovering from minor injuries he suffered when he crashed his brother’s car into a tree in central New York while playing “Pokemon Go” on his smartphone.
Police in Auburn in the Finger Lakes region tell The Citizen that 28-year-old Steven Cary of Portland, Oregon, crashed late Tuesday night while playing the popular digital-monster game.
Authorities say Cary suffered a broken ankle and cuts to both legs. Police Chief Shawn Butler says his injuries could’ve been worse because the impact of the crash nearly sent the engine into the passenger compartment.
Cary was ticketed for using a mobile device while driving and failing to remain in his lane.
Butler says the car, which was totaled, belonged to Cary’s brother. The police chief says Cary was visiting his mother at the time of the crash.
Stumbling into arrests, bodies
Authorities arrested an Indiana sex offender after they say a probation officer spotted him playing “Pokemon Go” with a 16-year-old boy on the county courthouse lawn.
The Greenfield Daily Reporter reports that probation officer Nick Layman saw 42-year-old Randy Zuick playing the popular cellphone game with the teen Wednesday. Wayne Addison, the chief probation officer, says a colleague who was with Layman ran into the courthouse to alert a security officer, who took Zuick into custody.
Records show that Zuick pleaded guilty in April to fondling a child under the age of 14 and has been on sex-offender probation, which prohibits the Greenfield man from interacting with children.
A judge will decide whether to revoke his probation.
A Michigan man with a warrant for his arrest has been taken into custody after showing up at a Detroit-area police station while playing the “Pokemon Go” game.
The Detroit News reports that Milford police say the 26-year-old, who was wearing pajama pants, rode a bike to the Milford station Thursday.
Police Chief Tom Lindberg says officers recognized him because they’ve had contact with him in previous years. He was booked on a warrant for missing a court date and released. The newspaper says he was originally charged with breaking and entering.
The location-aware smartphone game gives digital incentives like “Pokeballs” as rewards for visiting real places, known as “Pokestops” and “Gyms.” According to Milford police, the station is the site of a “Gym” as part of the game.
Police say a man’s body was recovered from a brook behind the New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial after it was spotted by someone playing the smartphone-app game “Pokemon Go.”
Lt. Robert Giggi tells WMUR-TV that the player was looking in obscure places in connection with the game Thursday. Giggi said apparently, that’s what “brought the person that found the victim to that area.”
An autopsy was planned.
The body was found near Rotary Park, the location of the Holocaust memorial. This week, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Arlington National Cemetery requested that smartphone users refrain from “catching” Pokemon when they visit. The museum is a Pokestop — a place where players can get free in-game items.
Last week, a woman playing the game in Wyoming found a man’s body in a river.
The creator of former Facebook game hit “FarmVille” says game du jour “Pokemon Go” may have limited appeal over the long run.
The game, which uses newfangled augmented reality, got a big lift because of old-fashioned word of mouth, says Amitt Mahajan, now a partner of VC firm Presence Capital, which invests in virtual reality and augmented reality. People saw others walking around playing on their phones and wanted in. But that doesn’t mean its popularity will last.
He says to really etch itself into the cultural consciousness for years, like “Candy Crush” and “Angry Birds” did, a game needs to add new levels or challenges often, and “Pokemon Go” may not be able to do that. And he says users could be turned off if they run out of nearby Pokemon to collect.
Still, he says the game will likely retain a smaller group of dedicated players.
A spokesman for “Pokemon Go”’s developer declined to say how many users there were.