Like so many in Natchitoches and across the globe, Kenneth Ellzey downloaded and got hooked on Pokemon Go recently. He and his daughter Dinah decided to walk to the Cane River Green Market instead of driving so they could catch Pokemon along the way. They ended up walking several extra blocks out of the way because of important things in the game called “Pokestops.”
“What’s cool is, specifically for Natchitoches, these Pokestops are almost all either public parks or historic landmarks,” said ElIzey.“I found a beautiful park today that I didn’t know existed and stopped to read two historic landmarks that I had never stopped at before. What if the average age of lndmark/history/Natchitochesaficionados goes down significantly over the next 6 months? Pretty soon 20-something-year-olds could know considerably more about this place than people in their 50s that have lived here their whole life.”
Pokémon Go is a free-to-playaugmented reality mobile game. Released in beta in July,it allows players to capture, battle and train virtual Pokémon who appear throughout the real world.
While it may be a silly game to some,Ellzey said it got him to walk 3 miles and discover parts of Natchitoches that he hadn’t seen or paid attention to before. “That’s pretty cool,” he said.
Since staying abreast of emerging cultural trends is essential to providing aworld class student experience, Northwestern State President Jim Henderson began playing Pokemon Go and caught his first Charmander.
“It’s the greatest social phenomenon since Sea Monkeys,” said Henderson.
“NSU is a national leader in the adoption and use of augmented reality technology. Pokemon Go is an amazing application of that technology with the addition of significant social and physical health components. Plus, since I’m awful at fishing, I can compensate by catching Psyducks and Magikarps on the banks of Chaplin’s Lake!”
The NSU campus is home to plenty of Gyms and Pokéstops.
“I love the game,” said Larry Ross.“It adds to my nightly walks and makes it more fun. Being able to play inNatchitoches has its advantages. With it being a college town and a tourist location, the gyms and Pokéstops are in abundance.”
The augmented reality gamehas Pokémon all over the place, but players have to physically go find them. Landmarks, businesses and specific areas are designated as places to get item boosts (Front Street has about seven).
Robert Asbell said, “It’s fun to be able to walk through Natchitoches and catch Pokémon. I always see people walking around and we compare Pokémon and tell each other where to find different kinds. It has motivated me to get off the couch and actually go outside and before I know it, I’ve walked all through the historic district. It’s great for exercise!”