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FCN holding canned food drive Friday during Pokémon releases
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Phong Phan, right, teaches Dani Startt's sons, Cole and Drew, how to play Pokémon Go at The Collection at Forsyth Monday afternoon. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

The Forsyth County News is a Pokéstop! We're going to release Pokémon throughout the day on July 15, starting at 11:30 a.m., and if you bring canned food or non-perishable items we'll donate them to Forsyth County Schools for low-income students who don't get free lunches during summer. Stay tuned to our social media pages tomorrow for more details.

FORSYTH COUNTY – The new mobile game Pokémon Go has become an overnight sensation across the nation, and Forsyth County is no exception.

“The game is awesome,” said Dalton Williams, one of dozens playing the game at The Collection at Forsyth, an outdoor mall off the Peachtree Parkway/Exit 13 interchange of Ga. 400, on Monday afternoon.

“It’s a huge hit, minus maybe the server crashed that happens every so often, but I think it’s the smartest idea Nintendo could have come up with.”

Since its release last Wednesday, July 6, the “augmented reality” game was estimated to have been downloaded 7.5 million times as of Monday afternoon.

The game is a spin-off of the popular Pokémon video game series and lets players search for creatures on their smart phones using navigation systems.

Once a player physically moves to the area and is alerted, they can try to catch the Pokémon, which will activate the phone’s camera and superimpose the character on the screen.

It seems like players like the mix of exercise and video games.

“I love it. I feel like this game is probably going to battle obesity for America [more] than anything else out there. Everybody plays the game, and you have to get out there to play it,” said Kyle Jones, who was also at The Collection.

Another feature of the game earning attention is Pokéstops, or physical places where players can collect game items, like the Forsyth County News building.

It appears that businesses could benefit from the game.

“I’ve noticed a lot of them are restaurants that, maybe, normally most people wouldn’t go to,” Williams said. “But I’ve been to several different restaurants and seeing what kind of food there was, just because there was a Pokéstop there.”

Pokéstops and gyms, which also use physical locations, could even bring out-of-towners.

“I’ve been all in Atlanta, Sandy Springs, down around the beltline, around here; anywhere where there are a lot of major shops and downtown areas, you’re going to be able to rack up,” Jones said.

With the game’s massive popularity, it has become a popular way for friends to bond and for strangers to meet. At The Collection, players were meeting with each other to discuss and play the game, and they generally did not know each other.

“There’s also a lot of different groups of people that I feel like would never normally meet,” Williams said. “Now you walk around and see people on their phones and all you do is say, ‘Hey, you playing Pokémon Go?” and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah!’”

Though it may already seem natural to the millions who have downloaded the app, the social side of the game may look strange to outsiders.

“We had a party Friday night, and halfway in the middle of the party, we all decided to go out in the neighborhood and look for Pokémon, all together in a giant group,” said Gabe Campbell, who was with Williams. “So there’s that social bond.”

The target audience seems to be those who played the original Pokémon series in the ‘90s, and some have said the new game’s popularity brings them full circle.

“With the competitiveness of the teams and the gyms, everyone is kind of bonding in a very nerdy way, which is funny to me because back when Pokémon originally started, people were made fun of all the time for playing Pokémon,” Williams said. “Now, everyone is playing Pokémon.”