When Niantic Labs first introduced the hit mobile game Pokemon Go in early July, it was a feeding frenzy of sorts. Seemingly overnight, the game became more popular than Candy Crush, crashed servers, and that's just the beginning. If you aren't familiar with the game, it allows users to create a profile, catch virtual Pokemon, train them, collect items at "PokeStops", and battle for territory at gyms. As you gain experience points, you are exposed to rarer Pokemon. One of the unique features within the game is the ability to hatch virtual eggs which also turn into Pokemon, some are very common while others are rare, but in order for the eggs to hatch you have to walk a certain distance. This new take on mobile app development pushes users to be active while exploring the communities in which they live and work.
The Pokemon Go phenomenon has led hotels and attractions across the country to develop unique marketing campaigns aimed at capturing those who play the game. Businesses across the country have taken advantage of this and have attracted a new customer base by offering discounts to players on products and services and some hotels have even started morning walking groups which take guests around the community to various locations where they can find Pokemon. Some businesses are seeing an increase in traffic just from users playing the game while others are seeing increases from the discounts they offer, attracting nearby players.
In an attempt to better understand how this game works and how playing leads to an increase in tourism, we downloaded the game about a week ago to try it for ourselves. One unique feature to the game is that Pokemon reside in areas that correlate to their composition. For instance, water Pokemon can be found near bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans), grass Pokemon can be found near woodlands, golf courses, trails, and farms, fire Pokemon can be found near residential areas, cities, deserts, warmer climates, etc. and these are just naming a few.
One thing that works in Cocoa Beach's favor with the game is its relative close location to large bodies of water, primarily the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River, and Banana River so there is certainly no shortage of water Pokemon. Another thing that is beneficial for the area is the high concentration of PokeStops, areas where you can obtain items to help further your place in the game. A large collection of these can be found near Ron Jon Surf Shop as well as in the Downtown Cocoa Beach area. Gyms where you can battle other users' Pokemon are also scattered throughout Cocoa Beach. This game is certainly something new, something exciting, and something sure to increase tourism and commerce to the area. We have personally seen people playing the game inside of grocery stores, a post office, and at the beach.
In the end, it is important to remember these things while playing the game:
1. DO NOT play while driving, riding a bicycle or skateboard, or operating any other device as you cannot safely do both.
2. Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. DO NOT play while crossing streets or highways.
3. DO NOT play in areas where you are unfamiliar at night.
4. Play in groups (do not play alone).
5. Play in areas that are in safe, public locations and DO NOT trespass on to private property or property that is restricted to the public.
6. Parents: Always supervise your children while they play.