AUSTIN— New species are popping up at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) sites and agency staff and state park visitors are arming themselves with poke balls trying to catch them all. Around the state, many TPWD sites are using the game as a new way to introduce the real natural world to players venturing into the great outdoors while on virtual hunts for the illusive Japanese characters known as Pokémon.
The game uses augmented reality to guide players on a quest to try and catch Pokémon characters from the cartoon, video game and card game in real world locations. Many TPWD parks and sites are the home to game interactive components — Pokémon, PokéStop and Pokémon Gyms — providing agency staff with a way to get into the fun by hosting Pokémon hikes and the development of a new digital guidebook.
The Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine has created a new digital guide in its free mobile app that has a wide range of helpful tips and tricks for gamers planning their next Pokémon hunting adventure in a Texas State Park.
“Pokémon GO is a cultural phenomenon, and we’re embracing it,” said Nathan Adams, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine art director. “This new section of our app features an overview of the game, Pokémon vocabulary and tips. We’re also spotlighting the PokéStops, Gyms and rare Pokémon found in our Texas State Parks. We’ll continue to add to the app in the coming weeks.”
One of the guide features is a list of etiquette and common sense safety guidelines for anyone playing the game in a park. These tips include: watch where you’re going, drive the speed limit, stay on the trails, stay out of restricted and closed areas, collect only virtual plants and animals, dispose of waste properly and, importantly, be respectful to the other park patrons.
Another handy tool for Pokémon trainers to use on their trek is the park adventure section, which includes a user guide to specific parks and has a map to that site’s PokéStop, Pokémon Gyms and screenshots of characters found at that park.
Any players who want to submit photos of characters caught in parks to the app can do so through email or by using the hashtag #TexasParksPokemon to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Several parks are hosting Pokémon hikes to help visitors find Pokémon and help them hatch their eggs in the game. The eggs are hatched by tracking the distance trainers walk in the real world to the distance required for each egg.
“We have seen groups of folks moving around the park as they go from PokéStop to PokéStop,” said Mark Stewart, superintendent at Isle Du Bois State Park Ray Roberts Lake Complex. “The incredible popularity of this game with our visitors has lead us to host Pokémon hikes in the park.”
“We are seeing people who have never been to the park who are getting a chance to experience nature, some for the first time,” said Onlie Mcgee, park ranger at Daingerfield State Park. “Most have said they feel this is a safe place to hunt for Pokémon and feel comfortable letting their children wander and play as well. I think the visitors were excited that the park staff accompanied them on the hiking adventure and even played along. “
To find a local hike at a Texas State Park, visit the TPWD Calendar page.
For more information about Pokémon in the parks, visit http://TexasStateParks.org/PokemonGo.
The free Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine app can be downloaded from the iOS app store and Google Play.