Pokemon Go Makes Louisville Feel Even Cozier

Story by Emily McGlawn, Illustration by Steven Wu

My parents stayed tethered to the car, my mom pouting because she wanted the Golem my father just caught. My three sisters ran from Pokestop to Pokestop, phones and tablets in hand, climbing on playground furniture. My brother stared intently at his phone, occasionally walking slowly to a different spot. We were at Beckley Creek Park in Louisville, hoping to utilize the Pokemon Go lure that has been set on the playground’s Pokestop. Instead of ignoring two strangers like you’d normally do this late at night, we eagerly chatted about what Pokemon are showing up on their phones.

Connecting Over the Pokemon Go Phenomena

Never did I imagine, when Pokemon was launched, that it would become a family and social activity. I’ve always been the only nerd in my home. I had Pokemon cards when I was in 5th grade – I played in a tournament or two mindlessly, not knowing what I was doing. My sisters and brother are much younger than me, and I’m willing to bet they’d never even heard of Pokemon before this app went viral. And we’re not the only ones who’ve experienced this phenomenon:

“All three of us went out walking last night around 11pm,” said Anna Turner, a mom who plays Pokemon Go with her husband and son. “We figured that we’d just check out a couple nearby stops. We ended up being kicked out of MidCity Mall, talking to more friendly strangers than I’ve talked to all year outside of my job, and walking for around two hours. I got more exercise than I expected to and it didn’t feel like I was exercising.”

Anna and her family stopped at a nearby statue around midnight. “The three of us were standing there in the dark, looking at our cell phones. A car drives up, and the driver asks, ‘Are you all at the gym?’ It struck me how odd it was that such an occurrence felt so completely normal due to this game.” says Anna Turner, referring to her son and husband.

In a time when people have been heralding the end of the meet-cute era, where people sit staring at their phones rather than talking to each other at dinner and most people meet new friends online, Pokemon Go is a literal game-changer:

“At one point there were over a dozen people hanging out catching Pokémon and socializing,” said Jess Bruno, a Pokemon Go at the Farmer’s Market in New Albany. “It was so much fun. I’ve never had such an easy time chatting with strangers and even people who aren’t playing are generally friendly.”

Louisville Businesses Capitalize on Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has become so wildly popular that businesses in Louisville are using it as a marketing tool to ‘lure’ people in:

“Apparently, the Hideout on Bardstown Rd. is near a Pokestop,”said Andrea Sinclair, a mother that plays with her son and husband. “The owner invested money in buying lures. So now everyone in the bar can benefit from higher Pokémon catch rates while they’re hanging out. Clever promotional strategy, and very effective. The Hideout is now a home base for several teams who gather there before sweeping out in a raiding party to claim the Bardstown Rd. gyms.”

Despite team rivalries, no one we spoke with has experienced any actual aggression. Team Mystic is overwhelmingly the most common color in Louisville (and everywhere else), but it seems that the East End has more Team Valor gyms. While sitting outside a gym, Sinclair started talking to the gym’s defender. “It was charmingly awkward. I said, ‘Hi! Are you?’ and used his username in the game. ‘I’m the one attacking your gym, but I have no clue what to do!’ He was sweet enough to give me a quick tutorial on the combat system, and we got to talking about the game and what we’ve learned so far.”

Here are the rumors of where Pokémon can be found in our city:

  • There is a Ryhorn in front of the UofL library by one of the trees
  • There is a Scyther on Southern Parkway near Iroquois Park
  • There is a Charmander (along with some more common Pokémon) at the back of the empty parking lot to the right of the Popeyes on Dixie
  • Onyx hangs out in Tom Sawyer Park
  • The Bashford Manor Wal-Mart is crawling with common Pokémon, as well as Meowth.

Where are you seeing Pokémon? Do you go Pokémon hunting as a social activity?
Tell us where we can go to catch them all!

Emily McGlawn

Emily is an event organizer and contributing writer to Nerd Louisville. By day, she works as Marketing Coordinator. By night, she's a swordfighter, roller derby girl, tabletop roleplayer, and board gamer.