VIRGINIA BEACH — Red Wing Park may be known for its gardens, but it’s grown a reputation as a hotspot for players of the mobile game Pokemon Go, which launched this past month.
“Everyone is playing,” said Jessica Scott, a 24-year-old Navy corpsman who lives near the Oceanfront and recently was playing the game on her phone at the park. “It’s crazy.”
Scott said the game reminded her of her childhood, when Pokemon televisions shows were popular and games were available on other, earlier media. And Red Wing Park, she said, is a popular spot because it has a number of places to gather Pokemon, supplies, hatch “eggs” and interact with other players. Scott walked a path in the park, playing on her phone all the while.
She said she tries to be careful while playing. Elsewhere, she said, “I’ve heard of people walking off of cliffs. It’s going to have to be really erious for me to not notice a cliff.”
Red Wing Park is know for its gardens.
“I hope not,” Scott said.
On a recent visit to Red Wing Park, nearly everyone who wasn’t there for a youth soccer practice was playing this game, part of a genre called augmented reality that uses GPS location data to fuel collection of virtual monsters and player interaction. In some locations, the game has been a problem, and there were some possible issues present at the park.
Some people were observed making laps on a driving path. While they drove slowly — in some cases, extremely slowly — they clearly operated their phones while they drove. In July, city police recommended players get a designated driver rather than playing while driving. A couple of players at the park said driving speeds some functions.
Julie Braley, a spokesperson for the city parks department, said city parks are seeing an increase in traffic due to the game, but she noted that Red Wing Park is already a well-traveled park. She said the game gets people out walking, including families.
Several players were on foot. Raheem Querashi, a 24-year-old student at Tidewater Community College, walked the path at Red Wing Park
“Just walking around catching Pokemon,” he said. “That’s about it.”
“Trying to hatch an egg,” said Rahman Querashi, Raheem Querashi’s brother, who also was there with his wife, Heather Querashi, and their two-month-old daughter, Zaara.
“It gives you an incubator,” Raheem Querashi said. “It gives you a certain number of kilometers to walk.”
This hatches the egg.
Heather Querashi said she often came to the park before, but the Querashis, like others players, said the game helps get people moving.
“It gets you out of the house,” Raheem Querashi said.
And there’s nostalgia for Pokemon, too.
“We grew up with this,” he said.
“Pokemon Red,” Heather Querashi said. “Pokemon Blue. Pokemon Yellow.”
“Game Boy,” Raheem Querashi said.
“It’s kind of like jumping into your favorite TV show,” Heather Querashi said.
Marie Gordon of Kempsville said she found the game was a way to get out of the house and move around after a surgery, and she sometimes plays with her family, too. She likes the park because it is open and feels safe.
Another day at Munden Point Park, no players were visible on a hot afternoon, but park aides said people sometimes realize amid a cookout that there are Pokemon to be had.
“This is a nice park,” said Abby Pecor, 27. “We’re kind of out of the way. … It’s a good place to get some peace.”
“We have quite a bit of Pokestops,” said her colleague, Loegan Gersley, 20.
© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC