Have you visited Assiniboine Park or The Forks lately? If you haven’t, you should. Wander through the Leo Mol garden in the evening or walk over the Esplanade Riel. The amount of people is shocking. On July 17th, Nintendo released the Pokemon Go app in Canada and it changed our environment. Kids, families, even seniors are all out searching for porygons and pikachus.
When I came back to Winnipeg from Europe a few years ago, I was struck by one thing; how few people were visible. Winnipeg isn’t comparable to European cities in terms of population or tourism, but it’s a city nonetheless. It was eerie going from consistently busy streets to walking down every road alone. Post-Pokemon, there are people everywhere. It makes me sad that I haven’t seen this before. As a city, we regularly fail at tempting people to come out of their homes. Sure there are festivals, sports games and other special events but those tend to target a certain section of the population. Those same events often cost money and have crowd limitations which limits accessibility further, especially for families. There are some fun events put on regularly in the summer like Downtown Drive-In Movies or the Summer Entertainment Series at the Lyric Theatre. Those are great and from what I have seen, moderately popular. There isn’t any hype around them though. I have casually thought about going to an outdoor movie, but I think, why not just watch the movie at home? It’s easier. No pants or driving required. What Pokemon does is get people excited to go out.
It reminds me of when I first moved to the city. I would designate some days to be adventure days. I’d drive to a different part of town. I would check out a new business that I hadn’t been to before. Eventually though I stopped adventuring. I found favorite places and stopped leaving the neighbourhood. That’s really too bad because although I stopped adventuring, the city hasn’t stopped changing. It’s really inspiring to see people adventure around for the entire day. They bring backpacks and chargers for their phones. They frequent local businesses which in turn have seen an increase in foot traffic. Ultimately Pokemon Go has shown us that we can be lured out from our suburban homes. We can come together to experience the city we live in. Before the summer ends, I would like to spend a day in the city with my backpack, exploring all the new places that I haven’t seen yet. I hope that once the Pokemon Go craze dies down, that the players will continue to come out to explore their city. Or at least that they have found some new favorite places to enjoy.