Ducks, squirrels and dogs are the typical animals spotted on Seattle’s popular Green Lake walk.
But on Saturday afternoon, it was highly-coveted virtual creatures that grabbed most of the attention. Hundreds of Pokémon Go trainers wandered the Green Lake trails — so many that I nearly bumped into multiple folks as they stared at their smartphones in pursuit of Pikachu and Dragonite.
“I just got a Larvitar. It’s above average,” one Pokémon Go trainer stated as a group of others passed by.
What the heck was going on?
It was a Pokémon Go Community Day — a rare chance to catch special Pokémon. And Seattle’s Green Lake — measured by the hundreds of smartphone-wielding hunters I spotted — was a very special hotspot. The Community Day started Friday and runs through Sunday, with special bonuses like three hour lures and easier egg hatching offered to players across the globe.
Mike Mouhanna, who was searching for Pokémon at Green Lake, said he was enjoying the fresh air and exercise as he tried to track down Dragonites.
“I’ve got quite a few for myself, and I am getting more of them so I can trade with people who just started playing again, like a few of my friends just got back into it,” said Mouhanna, who was taking a break from his studies and had been searching for Pokémon for about 90 minutes when I caught up with him.
Pokémon Go is not quite the phenomenon it was when this crazy scene broke out two years ago at Bellevue’s Downtown Park, but based on the number of trainers walking Green Lake on Saturday, the game certainly still has its fans.
Pokémon Go has special roots in the Pacific Northwest, not only because of ties to Nintendo, whose North American headquarters is located in Redmond, but also because Niantic, creator of the hit augmented reality game, has a fast-growing engineering office in Bellevue. Much of the technology behind the game is built in Bellevue, allowing millions of concurrent game players to search for Pokémon simultaneously.
That’s what was happening with Alvin Moser, who has played the game since May and was trying to catch a Pikachu from a park bench at Green Lake as dozens of other players passed by with their smartphones in hand.
“It’s that gotta catch ’em all mentality of you want to be able have every shiny and have the strongest Pokemon, and so it is like in the game where you want to be better than everyone else,” said Moser.
As of earlier this year, Pokémon Go had attracted more than 800 million downloads, with the game reportedly generating $2 billion in revenue.
If you wander into a park this weekend and it seems that more people than normal are glued to their smartphones, now you know what might be occurring.