Pokémon Go Claims Cusco

“I found a Pikachu in the middle of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco!” Nika Klev, a German tourist exclaimed. Pikachu and other strange creatures have entered Peru without passports or passing through customs, and have local people as well as tourists looking for them in the most unlikely places.

Pokémon Go is a worldwide phenomenon.  Starting on July 6, Niantic began using ‘Augmented Reality’ to place Pokémon inside the player’s world. The option to work in a virtual world is still available, but the stand out piece of this particular game is the maps–a remnant from the game Ingress, a multiplayer game by Niantic. CEO John Hawke used CIA funded Keyhole as the base of Ingress– and placing of the Pokémon in the environment of the player.  Photos of Pikachu on a bed, with the dog, or in the kitchen started showing up on Facebook feeds.

Pokémon Go opened in Peru on August 3rd.  There have been some problems with the program as it opens in new countries.  Battery use, as GPS enabled mode is required, hampers the enjoyment for some, as does the use of large quantities of data.  Brayan Coraza Morveli, who was excited for the program, told me he has already deleted it because of the errors in the program.

Pokemon in Cusco
Pokemon in Cusco


There are other downsides to the game, as people are targeted as have their phones out to play.  People are reminded to stay together in groups to avoid having phones stolen or worse.  On the positive side, is also has shown potential for social interaction, which most games do not have.  People go on “poke dates” to look for Pokémon together.

The game allows you to dress up an avatar who will then walk as you do through the streets in “AR” mode, or as google maps defines it ‘street view’, and ‘catch’ Pokémon which appear.  If you watch the screen for the ‘green rustling leaves’, you may see one.  Then, using a ‘Pokeball’ you must capture the creature.  The Pokémon are geographically oriented – you don’t find water Pokémon in deserts, which means that in order to ‘catch ‘em all’ you have to do a little traveling.

If you get too many of the little creatures, you can turn them over to Professor Willow.  No one is certain what Professor Willow is doing with the Pokémon, but he will give you candy for each one you give him.  Get enough candy and you can evolve your Pokémon, giving them greater abilities in the game.

Getting people out to walk and explore their surroundings was one of the driving forces behind the invention of the game.  Game inventor, Satoshi Tajiri was fond of catching bugs as a child and wanted to share the excitement with a new generation of kids.

(Satoshi) envisioned the competitive aspect of Pokemon as being ritualistic and respectful, like two Karate champions or sumo wrestlers. He wanted to have his characters faint instead of die, because he believes children should “respect death.”

 When asked about having monsters in a children’s game, he uses the analogy of a horse who is dangerous if he gallops over you, but a useful friend if you are riding him. He added, “What’s more important is that the monsters are controllable by the players. It could be the monster within yourself, fear or anger, for example. And they are put in capsules.” Susan Moffitt (

The game’s demographic, with more women than men playing the game, and fewer 13-18 year olds and  doesn’t support the idea that people are enjoying an experience of catching ‘bugs ‘like Satoshi, however, they would probably be interested in how Satoshi captured 5.1 billion dollars in the gaming industry.

Pokemon Cusco
Pokemon Cusco

The release of Pokémon Go continues around the world, with a few glitches.  Korea and China are concerned about security.  Iran has banned the game.  It hasn’t been rolled out in India yet.

Nika Klev is excited to continue his adventure looking for Pokémon in Peru. Just as every other player around the world, he’s ‘gotta catch ‘em all’.

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