Everyone’s going batty at Vincent

VINCENT council HQ is full of poisonous monsters: It’s been chosen as a location for a smartphone game where trainers battle strange creatures in the virtual world.

“Pokemon Go” launched in Perth on Wednesday last week before being unleashed across the world over the next day or two. Google Maps and GPS help players wander around the real world while their online avatar sticks close by, looking for pokemon (pocket monsters) to catch.

The program chooses landmarks from Google maps to be significant locations (or “gyms”) in the game, where players have to battle tough trainers and their elite “pocket monsters” to control that location for their team.

• A venomous bat caught outside Vincent council’s HQ.

• A venomous bat caught outside Vincent council’s HQ.

Vincent council was picked as one of the gyms, and is currently hosting monsters like the flying, venomous bat Golbat. It switches hands several times a day, as red, blue and yellow teams wrest to control it for their faction.

Battleground of ideas

Mayor John Carey isn’t a player and says he doesn’t quite understand what the fuss is about, but given the council chamber is a “battleground of ideas” he thinks it’s a fitting location for battling monsters as well.

“I’d love to see people turning up to catch Pokemon at the City of Vincent.”

King’s Park has also been a hotspot for Pokefans because rarer creatures can be caught in parks.

Tuesday evening’s biting cold wasn’t enough to deter about 500 hunters.

Car Parks were packed and roads clogged with slow-rolling cars looking for somewhere to drop their Pokemon lures.

• Hundreds of young Pokemon trainers like Joe, Jenni and John have been coming to Kings Park nightly, rugging up against the cold to catch rare creatures.

• Hundreds of young Pokemon trainers like Joe, Jenni and John have been coming to Kings Park nightly, rugging up against the cold to catch rare creatures.

The nearby chip shop is seeing a huge boost in trade, while two regular joggers say they’re now having to navigate their way through a horde of 25 to 30 year olds hunting magical beasts.

But they told the Voice they liked the company and one runner wished us “good luck, I hope you catch a Dragonair!“ — a rare creature said to inhabit the park.

A swank four wheel drive did slow laps while blaring out the Pokemon theme tune, then suddenly a hearty “YES!” rang out across Ceremonial Walk, coming from a meaty, tattooed bloke pushing a pram.  Across a sea of nerds a hoodied woman yelled back to him: “Babe, did you get a Machop?” referring to a querulous kung-fu goblinoid that inhabits the park.

It’s not all eyes glued to the screen either: There’s a community feel to it, as strangers helpfully let each other know about the much-sought after Clefairy monsters appearing down near the war memorial, or ask if anyone’s seen the shy living mushroom Parasect.

The app’s hugely popular and will soon have more daily users than Twitter at the rate it’s being downloaded.

It’s been praised for getting people out and interacting with others, but some don’t know when to quit: The Holocaust Museum in Auschwitz has asked people to stop catching Pokemon on its premises, calling it “extremely inappropriate”.

by DAVID BELL

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