July 13, 2016
'Pokémon GO' Will Change The Way You Eat

For those of you wondering what Pokémon GO is all about, here is a simplified version: Pokémon GO is a smartphone game based on a Japanese animated series Pokémon. In English, Pokémon is a portmanteau of "Pocket Monsters."

The player is called a trainer, and the objective of the game is to capture and tame as many monsters as you can. These monsters usually take the shape of dragons, dinosaurs, rats, snakes, and birds. What makes Pokémon GO unique is that when you download the Pokémon GO App, your smartphone becomes a magic mirror.

When you focus your phone screen, say on your office desk, the display will show you the exact image of your desk with your laptop and all. However, at the same time, it will also show a Pokémon sitting on your keyboard or perching on your sticky notes. With a tap on your phone screen, you can capture this Pokémon before it disappears.

What's important is that even if you are not planning on playing the game, a little familiarity would go a long way in helping you understand how this Nintendo game is a game changer.

For starters, Pokémon GO will create a new breed of shoppers who are going to buy stuff from places that allow them to hunt Pokémon.

Some restaurants have put up signs instructing Pokémon trainers that they must purchase something before they can capture the monsters in their stores.

Recently, a pizza restaurant in Queens saw business increase by 75 percent after buying $10 worth of in-game power-ups that lured Pokémon to its location, according to a report by New York Post.

"The amount of people has been astonishing," said Tom Lattanzio, the owner of L'inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City, Queens. "All day long, from afternoon to evening this past weekend."

Pokémon GO could become a $1 billion business within a year as local coffee shops and fast food chains are willing to splurge money to become Pokéstops for Pokémaniacs, according to United Entertainment Group.

McDonald's too will soon become a place to catch Pokémon in the real world. Based on the recent data mining from Reddit, Nintendo may promote Pokémon GO with McDonald's as its new partner, stated a report by BitBag.

Some believe that McDonald's will simply be a PokéStop or a Pokémon Gym in order to attract more customers to eat at the fast food place. McDonald's hasn't confirmed anything yet.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Duffy's Irish Pub owner Casey Callister said, "I'm baiting Pokémon right now." The pub owner has set out virtual incense that attracts Pokémon like catnip for 30 minutes at one shot, according to a recent report by Washington Post.

On Sunday, the Facebook and Twitter Duffy's Irish Pub, announced its status as a PokéStop, touting two extra advantages: Free WiFi and smartphone charging outlets at every barstool to keep their customers from draining their batteries. It worked, said Callister. "Every table had people playing. People would walk into the bar, I said, 'Are you playing Pokémon?' and they just laughed."

Some player-cum-customers were at Duffy's for more than four hours that day. And even those customers weren't on barstools the whole time: "They left and came back. I think they went [across the street] to the 9:30 Club," which is a Pokémon gym, or walked around the neighborhood to try to trap different Pokémon.

Callister intends to capitalize on the bar's PokéStop status as long as he can. He says he will also conduct Pokémon meet-up events on Thursday.

However, the app's popularity and the crowds of players it brings to unexpected locations have also caused some trouble. Police in the US and Australia have requested Pokemon hunters to be wary of their surroundings, as several reports of injuries and robberies have been reported.
John Hanke, chief executive of Niantic, which developed Pokémon GO and a similar game called Ingress, said that "sponsored locations" would provide a new revenue stream, in addition to in-app purchases of power-ups and virtual items.

If you are interested in playing, you can download Pokémon GO here.

(Photo by Alan Diaz/ AP Images)