Rubén Cantú-Rodríguez/Conexión Del Río

DEL RIO – Hoards of little critters took over the Whitehead Memorial Museum on Friday, July 29, 2016, followed by virtual hunters eager to capture them. The hunters’ goal: to add points to their score and better prepare for future battles. The Pokémon Go fever is in full swing nationwide, and hundreds of Del Rioans are part of it.

The augmented-reality video game, which interlaces real life sites with virtual critters, is described as a free-to-play, location-based, multiplayer online mobile game. But how does it work?

The objective of the game is to look for the critters, catch them, evolve them and train them for battle. 

Marlinda Quiroz and Jay Johnson.

“I have 77 pokémon so far, I am a level 11,” said Nathaniel Rubio, an incoming sixth grader who has been playing since day one. Nathaniel talks while keeping his eyes on a tablet, and suddenly tosses a pokéball at a “Raticate” sort of a crossbreed between a rat and a cat “one wiggle, two wiggle… oh man, it came out,” he says.

“You’re supposed to catch them, but sometimes they come out, they can also jump and deflect the pokéball,” he explains and shows the pokéball, a sphere that breaks in half when tossed at one of the critters trapping them inside… unless they break free.

Nathaniel’s mom, Sylvia Rubio, and his dad, Adrian Rubio, are also playing the game, but they are quick to state “we are not as good as he is,” she says.

Danika Ramos, Analiz Rodriguez, Isabelle Ramos.

Why the museum? Michael Diaz, Executive Director of the Whitehead Memorial Museum, said that the developers of the game pre-programmed the sites where the pokémon would be appearing, but there are also ways to lure the little critters into a place.

“We lure them here for a couple of hours, so people can enjoy their game in a safe environment, we don’t charge and it is a great outdoors activity for local families,” Diaz said.

Larisa Espinoza, Beverly Espinoza.

The game utilizes mobile device’s GPS sensors to track the place where the player is at. The character moves in the game following the player’s real life moves. The mobile device’s display combines reality with game objects, hence the term “augmented-reality.”

Adam Espinoza, Natalia Salas, Marco Salas.

These weekly meetings at the Whitehead Memorial Museum have been increasing in attendance for the last three weeks, and will continue to offer the local children, young adults, and children-at-heart, entertainment in a controlled environment and fun for everyone to “catch.”

Monica Rollins, Nina Kappelmann, Jazzmine Rollins, and baby Niklaus Rollins.
Mauricio Ibarra.