By Adam Jabari Jefferson, KCDOT Multimedia Specialist
For a Pokémon Go trainer, traveled distance makes the difference between bagging your 16th Caterpie in Seattle’s Occidental Square and catching a wild Seaking from the suspension bridge at White Center Heights Park.
The “go” in the game’s title urges exploration. There are 200+ bus routes in King County. The twin Water Taxis shuttle more than 500,000 passengers a year between Seattle and Vashon Island and West Seattle.
Boat, bus and Link light rail connections help us and our virtual avatars access real spaces. And they all accept the ORCA Card.
Public transit is integral to Go’s augmented reality world. Even the ORCA LIFT enrollment office sits between two Pokéstops. And that’s where my journey began. Equipped with an ORCA card, bicycle and fully charged phone, I embarked on a catch-‘em-all quest through King County.
(Smart trainers never bike, drive or walk while staring at their phone. Be safe out there.)
Like an Eevee drawn to incense, I took the proliferating pocket monsters reported in King County Parks as an invitation. I racked my bike aboard a 36 bus bound for Beacon Hill. At my transfer point to route 60 is a bus shelter photo mural where I viewed a “City Under Construction” and collected several Pokéballs. We crossed the South Park Bridge too quickly to visit any of its three Pokéstops. Other passengers, quietly lost in books or music, listened for their stops to be announced (unaware of the lurking digital beasts).
In Southwest Seattle, I cycled half-a-mile, phone in my pocket – Seriously! Look up at the road, trainers – into unincorporated King County where Steve Cox Memorial Park hosted a carnival for White Center Jubilee Days. Joyous noise and families filled the playground. A son and father, phones in hands, chased Poké pets along the ball field. We exchanged smiles and knowing nods as the giggling duo tracked Clefairy.
We are looking at one another. It’s a strange, refreshing byproduct of this mobile game. Your phone is out and so is mine. The way we walk, curiously searching the space around us, reveals our common ground. You, stranger, also are a trainer. We share the same excitement for a wild Weedle. And in our interaction, we learn to better navigate both worlds.