We went to a meetup with hundreds of Pokémon Go fans and found out why everyone is so obsessed with the game

caption
People play Pokémon Go in Union Square Park.
source
Sarah Jacobs

Three weeks after its release, Pokémon Go is still all the rage in cities across America, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

The mobile-augmented reality game that allows players to catch Pokémon in real-life locations already broke the App Store record for number of downloads during its first week of release. And bizarre Pokéstops – like grave sites, for example – are still being discovered. Even Justin Bieber is getting in on the fun.

This week we went to a Pokémon Go meetup in New York City’s Union Square. Several hundred people showed up to play together at the gathering, which was hosted by Rick Bross, who’s been organizing meetups all over the city. Last week, almost 1,200 people showed up to play in Washington Square Park.

Below, 10 people explain why they’re completely obsessed with the game:


Even if you’re not playing Pokémon Go, it’s easy to spot who is: Just look for the mobs of people looking down at their phones.

source
Sarah Jacobs

To keep players and their phones happy in the 90-degree weather, the Pokémon Go meetup supplied visitors with a free charging station and water.

source
Sarah Jacobs

Union Square is already a popular spot with players, since it’s an official Pokéstop.

source
Sarah Jacobs

The meetup team also placed “lures,” an item that attracts Pokémon, to the area — and where Pokémon go, people follow.

source
Sarah Jacobs

Enrique, the Pokémon Go meetup’s community manager, greeted players as they wandered up.

source
Sarah Jacobs

“I grew up with Pokémon, I still have all my cards and still have all the games from Nintendo Game Boy,” Ivan told Business Insider. “I’ve discovered more neighborhoods and made more friends than ever [while playing]. It’s the most awkward situation — you’re standing in front of a church, it’s the South Bronx, you’re looking at somebody standing there just nonchalantly playing on their phone, and you’re like ‘Pokémon?’ and they’re like, ‘Pokémon.'”

source
Sarah Jacobs

Ridge Porter happened upon the meetup: “I was just coming back from work and saw everybody and just stumbled over to the meetup sign. I’ve caught about 70 different types of Pokémon, and most of my friends are playing, too.”

source
Sarah Jacobs

“I’m a mama’s boy, and I call my mom every single day. Last week, my mom called me and was like, ‘Reggie, you have not called me in the last three days — what’s going on?’ and I told her, ‘I’m just walking, Ma, it’s good.’ She’s like, ‘How much have you been walking?’ I looked at my phone and found out I was walking about an average of 13 miles a day” while playing the game, Reggie Gacad said.

source
Sarah Jacobs

“I went to a Pokémon meetup in Central Park, but I couldn’t really find anybody because the park is just so huge. You really have to get there when it starts, otherwise [the players] disperse. As we walked through the park, we did see plenty of people playing, albeit they were all guys, but there were still a lot of people,” Alex Weinstock said.

source
Sarah Jacobs

“This is my third or fourth Pokémon meetup. I played the video game when I was a kid. I remember when I was little I was at the dentist office and I was reading [a] magazine that they have for kids and they had a thing on Pokémon, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I need this game,'” Itzel told Business Insider.

source
Sarah Jacobs

“Right now, I have 66 Pokémon, but I had a lot more ’cause I traded some in for candy — which helps you evolve your Pokémon,” Wendy Cooper said. “I’ve been walking a lot more, and I visited my [neighborhood] park, which I normally don’t do, and I discovered that we have tortoises in our park. It was the weirdest thing. You figure out something every day with Pokémon Go.”

source
Sarah Jacobs

“I can’t even check [how many Pokémon I’ve caught] because the game won’t load — sadness!” Becky Sayseng said.

source
Sarah Jacobs

“This is my first Pokémon meetup. I’m excited to be around other people [playing]. I live in Westchester, so I don’t see other people [playing], since it’s a suburban area,” Caroline Minassian said.

source
Sarah Jacobs

“I got a Game Boy on my eighth birthday, and I got the ‘Pokémon Red’ version. I watched the TV show every day as a kid. I would wake up at 6 in the morning [to watch] ’cause that’s when new episodes would come on,” Connor Norton said.

source
Sarah Jacobs

Pokémon Go “actually gets you to walk around. I think of it not only as a game, but as exercise as well. You have to walk to a certain location to catch a certain [Pokémon]. [The game] brings people together — that’s the most positive thing,” Kareem said.

source
Sarah Jacobs