Pokemon Go: gotta catch 'em all

Valie Cole and Shea Watson are playing Pokemon Go at Sally Kate Winters Park. The Confederate Memorial is a Pokestop and Pokemon can often be found near it.
Donna Summerall
Staff Writer

While driving by local parks, cemeteries and businesses, it's now common to see people of all ages, phones in hand, seeming to be wandering aimlessly. They are on the hunt for the elusive Pokemon (Pocket Monsters) and are playing the latest game for smartphones and tablets, Pokemon Go.
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game. It was released in July 2016 for iOS and Android devices. It has taken America by storm. The phenomenon has not spared West Point.
Shelia Little started playing Pokemon Go while her husband Jimmy was undergoing cancer treatment at North Mississippi Medical Center – Tupelo.
“We've been here in the hospital for several weeks,” Little said. “I had heard about the Pokemon Go thing and decided to download the game. I found three in the room with me. I thought if it was that simple, why is everyone going crazy? I put it down then.”
She said the next time they went out to the courtyard, she turned the app back on and started finding them all over the place.
“It gives me something fun to do while he's in therapy.” Little said. “I noticed the nurses chasing them on their breaks and lunch hours. Doctors are playing too. Jimmy thought it was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard of, chasing little invisible monsters and trying to catch them.”
Little found out she could not push Jimmy's wheelchair and catch Pokemon at the same time. She put her tablet on his lap and told him to catch them if he saw them. She said he got addicted to Pokemon Go pretty quick.
“He downloaded the app to his phone too,” Little said. “He fusses because he spends more time catching them for me than for himself.”
She was on the hunt one night at the hospital and wasn't having much luck when she noticed one hanging around inside the mens room.
“Yes, I did it. I knocked on the door first,” Little said. “Nobody said anything so I went inside, caught the Pokemon and got out. That's the most extreme thing I've done to catch one, going into a mens bathroom.”
She said she has seen them everywhere in the hospital, except in the elevators. She said she thinks the Pokemon have the right idea.
Valie Cole and her friend, Shea Watson have been hunting Pokemon for over a week. They usually meet with more of their friends at Sally Kate Winters Park to find the pocket monsters with their smartphones.
Cole said most landmarks, statues and some buildings can be hangouts for the Pokemon. Even the Growth Alliance is a hot spot for Pokemon.
“I think half of West Point are hunting for Pokemon,” Cole said. “Most landmarks are Pokestops, places to catch the Pokemon. The landmark shows on your phone and you can read what the landmark is. I've learned a lot about places in West Point.”
Watson said a lot of people come out to the park about 9 a.m. It's a lot cooler then. He said there are a lot of things on Facebook about people being lured to Pokestops and robbed.
“We all keep an eye on each other,” Watson said. “We never recommend anyone doing this alone. Always take a friend with you. It is also the best way I know of to make new friends. Everyone who is into it, loves to talk about it.”
Cole and Watson are both on the yellow team. There are three teams in West Point currently, yellow, red and blue, according to Watson.
“The fountains around town are gyms for Pokemon,” Watson said. “You can train your Pokemon to fight other Pokemon who are on other teams. The game is very intricate and involved, you might get a little carried away. But most of us do this after work. We don't skip work to play Pokemon Go.”
Cole said it is a great way to exercise, no more sitting at home watching TV.
“My seven year old daughter is a little embarrassed to be seen with me playing Pokemon Go.” Cole said. “Her friends don't think its cool. She's called me and Shea nerds for playing. But she has the app and plays too when her friends aren't around.”
Both Cole and Watson said to never play Pokemon Go while driving. They said to pay attention while crossing the street and make sure to watch for cars, not Pokemon.
Kendra DeForest is a Pokewidow. Her fiance spends a lot of his spare time playing Pokemon Go.
“It has pretty much killed conversation in the car,” DeForest said. “If I'm driving he's on a pokehunt, if he's driving he asks me to keep an eye out for them. Or he's talking about training at a gym that isn't really a gym. It's a gym to train Pokemon.”
She said when he does get tired of playing and finally puts his phone down, they will probably release a second wave of Pokemon and he'll be gone again.
“The hardest part is knowing he's gotta catch em all, and that will take forever,” DeForest said. “How do you compete with a horde of invisible monsters that aren't even really there?”