ROANOKE (WSLS10) - It's been 20 years since the Pokémon craze had kids and adults worldwide lining up to buy the trading cards. Now the hype is back, but this time it's for the Pokémon Go App.
The game allows players to walk around real neighborhoods, looking for virtual Pokémon game characters on their smartphones. They explore their communities, capturing Pokémon that appear on their phones as they move about.
Each community has dozens of historical landmarks and significant features, designated as PokéStops. The Hotel Roanoke, Texas Tavern and the Roanoke Valley War Memorial are just a few of the stops in Downtown Roanoke. Other areas, like Grandin, have even more-- getting players to visit communities, and local shops and restaurants, they wouldn't know about otherwise.
"With Grandin Village being here, we're two steps away from a restaurant," says Fe Nguyen, the Community Manager at the Grandin CoLab. "That would be really helpful for restaurants, especially since this is a social thing that people are going to want to do with their friends."
It's a virtual game that could have a real life positive impact on these communities.
But it's not all good news-- players have also been put in some dangerous situations as well. Last week, a 19-year-old in Wyoming found a dead body in a river while searching for water-themed Pokémon characters. An armed robbery in Missouri is being blamed on the game, after players were lured straight to the people who robbed them in search of a Pokémon Gym.