Pokemon Go phone app takes over Grand Strand; business can profi - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Pokemon Go phone app takes over Grand Strand; business can profit

WMBF News is catching them all! WMBF News is catching them all!

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - You've heard history has a history of repeating itself.  No words are more true since the Pokemon craze has returned.  The series took off in the early 2000s, and, for a long time, was a big part of television and gaming industry.  Now, it's back in more modern form.  

The Pokemon Go phone application is more popular than Tinder and today, even rivaling the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.  This new game is giving people what they wanted 15 years ago, and that's to be able to actually live in a Pokemon world.

The free smartphone app has group pages dedicated to it and Pokemon hunting on Facebook.  People from all over the Grand Strand are gathering to hunt for the creatures together.  On Tuesday, crowds of people were at the Market Common in the evenings, searching for new Pokemon to catch.  Although it's an app, it's doing something not every app can do: it's bring people together. The app is getting people off their couches, encouraging social interaction, encouraging people to explore and giving people young and old an activity they all want to do.

WMBF News ran into a trio of siblings at the Boardwalk.  They said they wouldn't be spending so much time together if it wasn't for the app. 

"That's why we're walking the Boardwalk right now.  It's a great way to get exercise, get a tan, and catch Pokemon," Elliott Stuhr said.

Megan Koshney is another Pokemon Go user.  She said she plays because it reminds her of her childhood. "I swore that I wasn't going to download the game, too, and it got the best of me.  I remember having like my flip up Nintendo when I as all about it then, and I have my Pokebook and my Pokemon cards…so part of my childhood came back and I as like I have to," she said.  

Koshney added she takes strategic routes when going from place to place, because she knows where the best places are for Pokemon and an icon called a Pokestop.  Pokestops give users more Pokeballs, which are used to catch the Pokemon, and other free items.

Pokestops are necessary for the user to play.  But the places where these Pokestops pop up were chosen at random by the game.  Many are at popular stops throughout the Grand Strand, like the Boardwalk and Barefoot Landing.  Others are at restaurants.

On Tuesday, reporter Meredith Helline spoke to kids who went with their family to Fuddrucker's because of the Pokestop located there on the game.  At the Boardwalk, the 8th Avenue Tiki Bar is a PokeStop not by choice.  Workers there said it was so packed with Pokemon Go players the other night, waiters tripped over them.

But as one social media marketer explains, there's another side of it. It's called a "Lure Module."  

"They [Pokemon Go] can make that like one of their new locations so that they [users] have to go to that location.  It will make more of a flow of people go towards that one place…like Starbucks or McDonald's or wherever that one company that is buying off of Pokemon Go is...telling them to go," social media marketer Dardan Bela said.

"Lure Modules" can be bought to attract Pokemon for 30 minutes.  This will attract more possible customers to a place of business, if it isn't automatically listed as a Pokestop or "gym" for the game.

Lure Modules can also be bad.  Myrtle Beach Police spokesman Joey Crosby reminded people to always be aware of their surroundings when playing the game.  He said there have been no reports of people getting in trouble or hurt in Myrtle Beach yet, but it has happened in other cities.  The game does not exclude wooded or other possibly dangerous areas for Pokemon to be.  Police remind you to use your head; the game is not reality.

Stay safe and happy Pokemon hunting!

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