Anna is a reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Pokémon Go craze sweeps Tauranga

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Released last week, the Pokemon GO app is an augmented reality game, which combines an image of a Pokemon, with the user's real world view. It gives players the change to catch Pokemon in various locations by showing their location on a map, with PokeStops are (local landmarks, where users collect items, and Pokemon Gyms where players can battle Pokemon. First created as a pair of games for the original Game Boy, Pokémon is now a media franchise including video games, card games, animated television shows and movies.

A new mobile phone app is getting children off the sofa and exploring the outdoors these school holidays.

Launched last week, the Pokemon GO app is an augmented reality game, which combines an image of a Pokemon cartoon character, with the user's real world view.

Players can ''catch'' Pokemon in various locations by showing their location on a map,

Eight-year-old Campbell Davies was at Memorial Park with his sister Charlotte, 12, catching Pokémon.

"It's good, people are getting fresh air," he said.

Parent Amanda Davies said her children now wanted to go further a field in search of parks and monuments.

"It's good from a fitness perspective. They're motivated to walk around."

Charlotte said they had been visiting more parks than ever before, due to the Pokémon GO app.

They have reached level four, with their first Pokémon being a Ghastly found on Campbell's leg.

Pokémon GO - Bop Facebook group creator and admin Caymen Beeby, 21, thought the group would be "little and tight-knit" when he made it last Wednesday evening.

"It's expanded to Katikati, Papamoa, it's nice."

As at 6pm Monday night it had reached over 200 members.

He said the app was encouraging people to get out of their homes and had a social element to it.

"I think it's incredible, most of us are gamers, and gamers like to stick to their bedroom and their lounges."

"You go out and get exercise, you're socialising, you're talking to people, you're not actually being anti-social as you're being social on the phone."

"It's really bringing people together."

Maungatapu local Rhys Hudson, 28, who was also an admin of the Facebook group had been playing for four days, and had reached level 19.

"I've my two days off work, so I've been out and about and active. There has been some really good meet-ups... The three main hot-spots in Tauranga seem to be the Strand, Memorial Park and Historic Village."

He thought the use of cultural landmarks was a good feature of the app, and appealed to all ages and all sorts of people.

"It's encouraged people to not only get out and exercise and meet new people, but also to go and check out things around the city they probably wouldn't before."

"Pokémon was one of those things, where most of the stereotypes you have, geek, jock, it didn't apply to people when they started playing Pokémon. Everyone was so young it was more uncommon to not be into Pokémon. You have this whole generation of people who really enjoyed it as children."

Gareth Martelli, 32, was selected to be a field tester of the app, before it was released in New Zealand.

"When I first started playing it, I was in love with it. The only thing I could fault it on was I wasn't allowed to discuss it with anyone, and I couldn't even play with my friends," he said.

However, he thought the current Pokémon craze would be bigger.

"I think after a couple of weeks it will die down once all the hype is over. It will be the serious players who will play it from then on."

Student Sam Golf, and teacher Sean Clarke were at Memorial Park

"We grew up with [Pokémon]. It's nostalgic."

Sam thought the creation of the Pokémon Go app was a, "pretty neat idea".

Sales representative Alice Zhong, 30, thought it could be a time-waster at work, or be hazardous while driving.

However she said she enjoyed playing Pokémon Go.

"I went to Pak'n Save and ended up playing [Pokémon Go]," she said.

"All my friends are playing."

- Bay of Plenty Times

The Tauranga - Pokemon GO Walk is taking place this Saturday, with already over 1,100 people interested on Facebook, and 367 indicating their attendance.

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