Pokémon Geau Claire! 4 pro tips to help players of all ages catch ’em all in the Chippewa Valley

James Johonnott

Pokémon Go hit America like a storm over the summer, and Eau Claire is no exception. Sizable crowds of phone-wielding Pokémon trainers can still be regularly seen from the mall to downtown.

As a brief recap, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game that’s part of the two-decade old media/gaming franchise about everyone’s favorite magical, highly destructive creatures. In this latest take on the series, the game informs players of nearby Pokémon. Looking through the smartphone will then reveal a Pokémon digitally placed in the real world, which the player then can attempt to catch and collect. After all, you gotta catch ’em all.

Kids (and adults) love the game because it accomplishes something close to the nostalgic dream of every PokeFan: Pokémon in real life. But on top of the fun involved in playing the game, Pokémon Go offers tons opportunities for fun in other ways while exploring and socializing in the Chippewa Valley.

1. Explore

While the game is on its surface a quest for Pokémon, the game also encourages exploration for its own sake. Some physical locations – including art installations, historic buildings, libraries, churches, and more – now act as locations in the game. Each location is visualized in the game and provides a brief description of what that object or place is. You can use these to set up a scavenger hunt about real-world locations for your kids while they search for Pokémon.

2. Socialize

Roaming the world looking for Pokémon is more fun with friends, and Eau Claire has plenty of opportunities to enjoy the game with friends or to meet new people. The District Company, Eau Claire’s downtown friendly local game store, organizes regular “Poke Walk” events in which players can walk around town in large, family-friendly groups and catch ’em all together. There are multiple Facebook groups to join, each of which organizes its own get-togethers and other events. For example, the Eau Claire Team Valor Facebook group organized a clean-up event when the popular Poke hangout spot at the intersection of North Barstow and Wisconsin streets had gotten messy.

3. Stay Safe

Parents can have plenty of valid concerns about the game. Pokémon Go can be a great way to teach your kids about what areas are OK for them to explore and which they should avoid. Even savvy adult Pokémon trainers know that if you wouldn’t go somewhere normally, don’t go there just because there’s a Dratini. If you’re concerned your kids may be catching Pokémon out-of-bounds, consider downloading an app like Phone Tracker to check their locations.

If your kids are just now getting into Pokémon Go, consider creating a secondary or “dummy” Google account (or making a Pokémon Trainer Club account) for their protection. Also, encourage them to use something very different from their actual name as their in-game name. These steps are smart ways to protect them digitally.

Most importantly: make sure your kids are aware of their surroundings, not just when crossing the street but at all times while playing the game.

4. Have fun!

Pokémon Go can be a great way to enjoy a walk with the kids around town or to encourage your kids to learn some independence. With some smart safety tips in mind and great communities to join, the game can be a wonderful excuse to grab the kids and go explore that part of town you’ve never been to. You know the one. There might be an elusive Pikachu there, or your new favorite restaurant or park.