Pokemon Go for Seniors and All!

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A photo of a Pokemon at the dinosaur bones at Ibach Park.
A photo of a Pokemon at the dinosaur bones at Ibach Park. Bev Forsman/Contributed Photo

Ever notice a group of people moving slowly around the Tualatin Lake of the Commons, perhaps looking slightly suspicious? Intense, peering at their phones, uttering occasional yelps of excitement?

Not to worry. They’re just chasing Dragonites, Wigglytuffs, and Spoinks, or perhaps battling at a Poke Gym to win special loot, in other words, playing Pokemon Go.

Pokemon – “Pocket Monsters” in Japanese – is a mobile GPS-based video game, and downloadable free to your smartphone. Easy to play, the game’s slogan is “Gotta Catch’ Em All.” The point is to catch as many virtual Pokemon creatures as possible (and yes, that means Dragonites, Wigglytuffs, and Spoinks, among many others.)

Here’s the big picture:

Players are designated as Pokemon Trainers and have three general goals: 

To complete their Pokedex by collecting all available Pokemon, train a team of powerful Pokemon from those they have caught to compete against other teams, and steadily “Level-Up,” moving towards Level 50. 

In the Pokemon universe, a Trainer who encounters a wild Pokemon can capture that Pokemon by throwing a specially designed Pokeball at it. 

If the creature cannot escape the Pokeball’s confines, it is considered to be under the ownership of the trainer. Trainers can send out their Pokemon to wage battles against other Pokemon.

Pokemon, Pokestops, and Poke Gyms (all virtual) are scattered throughout Tualatin, the state, the country, and the world. A Pokemon might appear in a Trainer’s home, while gyms and stops are generally found around stores, parks, and interesting features such as waterfalls or statues. Trainers must get out of the house and explore to find these, encouraging exercise, mobility, and exploration.

Many seniors have become Pokemon players, citing exercise as one of the top benefits. Walking is a critical part of the game. Physical effort is constantly rewarded through hatching eggs, discovering Pokemon, and receiving gifts from gyms and stops. A sense of accomplishment accompanies the end of each outing.

While one can play happily alone, it’s also simple to play with any number of other Trainers. This allows for social interaction with other players, providing an easy way to connect with the community. Groups of people often meet up to play and are generally welcoming to newcomers. 

All age groups can play, potentially connecting generations in the fun.

Tualatin resident Kevin H. shares that his mom loves joining him and his sons at Ibach Park for multigenerational play. 

“Mom is always enthusiastic about a meet-up at the park to battle in some raids or catch some Pokemon. On Community Day, she’ll happily play for five hours trying to catch shiny Pokemon and compete in high-level raids. She’s never the one to suggest quitting and going home.” He adds, “It’s a great way to keep us all connected by doing something that everyone can enjoy.”

Additionally, Pokemon Go creates cognitive stimulation. The game has many intricacies that engage the player’s mind. Decisions must be made about which Pokemon to evolve and power up, which to use in battles, and how to spend carefully earned “coins” garnered through gyms. Trainers can play with only the most basic knowledge or can choose to develop more advanced skills. Professor Willow guides new Trainers through the game.

If you’re ready to get started, the mystic world of Pokemon Go is waiting and thriving in Tualatin. Visit the Lake of the Commons, where multiple Pokestops, Poke Gyms, and Pokemon are lurking, invisible to the naked eye. Spin a stop at the World’s Largest Hanging Basket at the Garden Corner, or Cabela’s White Sturgeon or Waterfall Fountain. Grab some lunch at La Island Bonita while checking out their Pokestop, or venture over to the Tualatin Post Office, the Winona Grange, or the Tualatin Veterans of Foreign Wars. Try Bridgeport Mall for high quantity, or check out Tualatin’s local parks, where you’re sure to find a large Pokemon world. Most of all, just go… Pokemon Go!