Pokemon Go sweeping across Victoria

At the corner of Circle Drive in Beacon Hill Park on a Thursday evening, Steve Gait hatched his very first egg.

Cook Street Village resident Steve Gait shows off a pokemon he caught recently in Beacon Hill Park.

At the corner of Circle Drive in Beacon Hill Park on a Thursday evening, Steve Gait hatched his very first egg.

Staring intently at the beige and green speckled egg on the screen of his Samsung smartphone, the egg begins to shake and rattle. Suddenly, a two-eyed brown creature with white horns pops out.

It’s a pokemon called Pinsin.

“It’s getting crazy,” said Gait with a laugh.

Gait just finished hatching his first 10 kilometre egg as part of a new phenomenon called Pokemon Go that has been sweeping across Canada, including Victoria, since it was released earlier this month.

Pokemon Go is a free, location-based augmented reality game played on smartphones. As part of the game, which is meant to encourage users to get outside and walk, players use their GPS and camera to capture, battle and train virtual creatures called pokemon, who appear on the screen as if they were in the same real-world location as the player. The goal is to catch all 250 pokemon.

Players can also pick up pokeballs (to catch the pokemon) and eggs at pokestops around the city. Depending on the egg, participants must walk two, five or 10 kilometres in order for the egg to hatch.

In Gait’s case, he walked 10 kilometres to get the Pinsin to hatch, and is in the process of hatching two other eggs.

In the past few weeks, the Cook Street Village resident has caught 47 different pokemon, often seeing them on walks through Beacon Hill Park, on his lunch break from work or standing in line at a grocery store.

Gait said the game has encouraged him to go outside and has created a community of people with a common interest.

“I wasn’t into pokemon originally. For me, these are brand new characters. I’ve never seen them before or heard of them for the most part,” he said, adding it’s exciting when he catches new types of pokemon.

People around the Island are excited about the game as well.

Tear’a Lyons recently created a Facebook group called Pokemon Go Team Vancouver Island, where members can share achievements and seek advice.

Originally, she thought the group would just be a few members, but it has since ballooned to more than 300 members in a few days.

Lyons, who goes out several times a day to play the game and take her dog for a walk, said the game has helped her start conversations with people she normally wouldn’t interact with. The game has also helped bridge the gap between generations young and old, she added.

“I’ve gotten a lot more courage talking to people and being more open and being aware of what’s out there,” said the 41-year-old Sidney resident and mother.

“It’s an excuse to go out with your kid, to go out with your grandkid. I think the younger generation is positively impacted in playing it as well. It’s a reason to get out with your mom and dad. Often times, kids don’t feel like they have things in common with their parents. This is that connector, this is the missing thing in the middle that connects the age gaps.”

For more information about the Facebook Group visit Pokemon Go Vancouver Island.