Pokémon Go is taking the Border City by storm.
The official Canadian release of the popular mobile augmented-reality game took place over the weekend, which has led to Lloydminster residents to come out in droves in order to hunt Pokémon across the city.
Once the digital creatures are captured on the app, they can be trained up to fight other Pokémon who have been installed as the guardians of Gyms, which are tied to specific points of interest in the city. Pokéstops, which allow players to gather items, are also tied in to local landmarks.
However, as Lloydminster is not as dense as other population centres, the Gyms and Pokéstops can be few and far between. Players have instead converged on three separate clusters in the city, with a large amount of people ending up in the area of the Lloydminster Cultural and Science Centre.
“I’ve never been here (the museum),” said local resident Megan Parker, who had come with her husband, Matthew.
“Since Pokémon, it’s the first time I’ve ever been. We were driving around the other day, on roads I had never been on.”
The spike of people visiting the parking lot has not gone unnoticed by staff at the museum. According to Kyra Stefanuk, the manager of the LCSC, players began coming by on Sunday.
“I came to work on Monday morning, and the summer students were like, ‘Oh my goodness, we had people here all night’,” said Stefanuk.
Stefanuk said players came by from 3 p.m. on Sunday evening until at least 10:30 p.m. She has now downloaded both Pokémon Go and Ingress, a game made by the same company, in order to view the Pokéstops outside her workplace. As for how she views the influx of people, the feeling is positive.
“Our whole goal is to be a community hub, to be a centre for the community,” said Stefanuk.
“The fact that our parking lot has turned into that is kind of cool. I don’t know if the Pokémon are ever in buildings, but if they are, people can pay regular admission and come on in and check out the Pokémon! It’s been cool.”
When asked if there are any moves planned by the museum to get involved with the players currently swinging through the parking lot, Stefanuk said nothing is in place.
“As of right now, we don’t have anything in place like that,” said Stefanuk.
“We will be keeping to our regular hours. We are on summer hours right now, so we are open seven days a week, and we are open late on Thursdays.”
Stefanuk also said she wanted players to know the fenced-off areas of the LCSC compound are not open to the public. However, she did express a hope for players to come by during the upcoming Heritage Day on August 1.
“I think that there are some portals that are located in our fenced compound, and we do have Heritage Day coming where that compound will be open, it’s the Monday of the long weekend,” said Stefanuk.
“It’s going to be a bit of a conflict of interest, because the whole day is Heritage Day, so blacksmithing and rope making. If people are running around playing Pokémon Go, it’ll be a mixture of generations for sure.”
As for whether or not Stefanuk plans to try and “catch ‘em all” herself, it remains to be seen.
“Maybe if someone shows me how to use it,” said Stefanuk.
“I’m a little technologically challenged, I work at the museum.”