Thousands of Pokémon fans joined the San Francisco Pokémon Go crawl on Wednesday, hunting for characters while launching "Poké balls" along the Embarcadero.
What started out as an event posted on Facebook transformed into a mass gathering of over 9,000 people coming together to experience a community created by the digital phenomenon.
Couples, groups of friends and even some who had just gotten off work, walked along the Embarcadero and enjoyed the scenery while discussing Pokémon techniques with other so-called trainers.
Although the experience of catching Pokémon can appear isolating, many at the event said that being out and playing Pokémon Go allowed them to get out of their comfort zone and talk to other players.
“You see so many people of all ages coming together and remembering what we did when we were young,” said Ally Gonzales from San Jose, who drove almost two hours to be a part of the San Francisco crawl.
In a city as big and diverse as San Francisco, many Pokémon trainers were able to find creatures they would have never caught in their hometowns. San Jose native and Gunderson High School student, Antonio Facio, felt the game gave him a sense of motivation to explore the area rather than sit at home and watch TV. While exploring the Embarcadero he was able to capture a rare water-type Pokémon, Squirtle.
Chloe, a San Francisco resident, came to the Embarcadero to play right after she left work.
“I love sharing my experiences with my co-workers and friends, as well as going out and exploring,” she said. “This game forces you to go out and explore new places in the city.”
Several attendees of the event showed their spirit by wearing head-to-toe Pokemon costumes. Others wore hats, carried stuffed animals or had key chains donning different Pokémon faces.
Only time will tell if the excitement will prevail for long, but for now, the hype seems to be continuing with different Pokémon events scheduled around the Bay Area through the end of August.
Aayush, a San Francisco resident, hopes that the developers of the game continue to explore more possibilities of how they can bring the game into real life.
“There is so much more they could do with this, and once they introduce ways of competing and connecting with your friends, it could become so different,” he said. “It just feels like it's something big going on, and I’d like to be a part of it.”