Library offering Pokemon Go tours

Jumping on the Pokemon Go craze, the Prince George Public Library is offering the Guided Pokemon Go Walking Tour to players, who are known as trainers in the game, every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. for the rest of the summer.

The Pokemon Go game is available on iPhone and Android smart phones.

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Players seek to capture Pokemon - short for pocket monsters - and battle to control Pokemon gyms.

The game uses your phone's GPS to map your location in the real world.

To capture a Pokemon, players must walk around in the real world with the game open on their phone, which will indicate when one is near.

The game also has Pokestops, where trainers can stock up on items to help them capture Pokemon.

These stops are often located near local landmarks, and several locations can be found throughout downtown Prince George.

"Back in the day it started as a video game and a card game," said Darcie Smith, teen services librarian at the downtown branch.

Pokemon was also a popular Japanese cartoon that began in 1998.

"It's this world and they have all these little creatures and you use these things called Pokeballs to catch the creatures," explained Smith.

"So when you see the creature... you want to catch the creature in the Pokeball... It's a really interesting way to combine a traditional game with smart phone technology and the whole point is to catch them all, as they say."

So after the trainer captures as many Pokemon as they can, they can battle to take control of Pokemon gyms.

"So I was chatting with the current heritage project assistant (Paige Malmgren) and we were talking about how many people we had seen outside the library and just around town playing Pokemon and we thought it was really cool," said Smith.

"We thought that we should try to combine it with a walking tour because we really want to change the way people think about the library and one of the big things that comes up around the library is the issue of relevancy.

"So through these tours we've been given the opportunity to reach out to an under-served young-adult demographic and it also increases our visibility so it gives us a street presence through this non-traditional library programming."

There have been a number of steps made towards inclusivity at the library with the Queer Straight Alliance, promoting a safe space, walking in the Pride Parade, as well as hosting the guided Pokemon Go walking tours, added Smith.

Tours start at the library.

"And what we're going to be doing is dropping a lure to draw in Pokemon," said Smith. "It makes all the little digital creatures pop around and the trainers will come, too. There's about 16 or so Pokestops on the three kilometre tour where trainers can fill up on Pokeballs, which is what you are virtually throwing at the Pokemon."

As Smith describes the action she can't help but laugh.

"I hope this really goes well," said Smith. "It's a good way to increase your Pokemon trainer experience and also learn some really fun facts about the historic downtown locations. It's an opportunity to connect with people who share similar interests and also to socialize and build connections between the library and other public spaces and to draw people into the downtown - be outside - be visible."

It's a free drop-in event.

The last tour of the summer goes Aug. 24 at 8 p.m.

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