Pokemon Go boosts local business, spawns safety concerns
Published Friday, July 22, 2016 9:25AM ADT
Last Updated Friday, July 22, 2016 9:26AM ADT
HALIFAX -- While some businesses are embracing the foot traffic created by the wildly popular Pokemon Go app, others say the game has spawned some safety concerns.
The augmented-reality game has only been officially available in Canada for less than a week, and already seems to have people outside exploring.
"Addictive? Yeah, I'd say we're on it every day, at least a few hours a day,” said player Chris Boudreau.
“We get a lot of exercise doing it, though," said Boudreau’s girlfriend, Lauren Vasquez.
Other players seem to agree.
"It's one of those apps that's going to get people up doing something physical instead of sitting around,” said player James Reid.
The game sends players into the real world to search for digital pocket monsters, or Pokemon, who appear onscreen via smart phone cameras in various areas of the user's community.
Huge crowds of Pokemon Go players have been spotted gathering at landmarks around the Maritimes, and some local businesses are cashing in on the increased foot traffic.
"Certainly, some folks are not paying any attention, they're just looking at it as a Pokestop,” said Cal Johnston, who owns a comic book shop near the Halifax waterfront. “Others are finding some new things, and we're gaining some new customers from it."
"It's definitely been busier,” agrees Niko Hurstbruce, who owns an ice cream shop in Dartmouth. “Business has probably at least doubled, probably tripled. People are here all day and night until five in the morning. We've extended our hours from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. most nights just to accommodate the Pokemon Go players."
Hurstbruce even decided to take steps to make his business more Pokemon Go-friendly,
"We put some outlets there so they can sit and enjoy their ice cream while they play," he said.
Although Pokemon Go may be encouraging players to get outside and visit landmarks in their cities, some are concerned that Pokemon in private areas could lead to trespassing.
"If you go onto private property, that could be an issue,” said Cst. Diane Woodworth. “A lot of people don't know what Pokemon Go is, and they're going to be concerned about a group of people on their property.”
According to police, people walking around with their eyes glued to their phones is already a problem, but people chasing down video game characters on city streets poses an even greater danger.
"If you're on your phone playing this game in particular, or any other, be aware of your surroundings,” said Cst. Woodworth. “Look up. Don't walk into the street. If you're in unfamiliar territory, keep an eye on where you are, because you may get lost."
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.