A few weeks ago, as I was walking home through the rainy streets of Manchester, I was greeted by a familiar sight: someone was acting strangely.
A man in his fifties, dressed in dad’s standard slate gray cargo pants, black T-shirt, and puddle-stained New Balance, wandered down the sidewalk, the phone stretched out in front of him in a kind of mummy gait with stiff arms. , grumbling and getting under the feet of disgruntled passersby.
Twenty meters further down the road and I could see the source of his dismay; he was trying to catch a Bulbasaur.
Aside from the peak of Fortnite in the summer of 2018, where everyone was pledging eternal allegiance to Jonesy, the default skin, I can’t think of a game that has been played as visibly by as many people as Pokemon Go, even three years after launch.
Pokémon Go Fest Dortmund 2019
Fast forward to the weekend of Pokémon Go Fest 2019 and the streets of Dortmund were filled with mobs swept away by the same concentration of glassy eyes and an insatiable hunger to catch some ‘Mon.
The main venue for the event is the Westfalenpark at the southern end of the city. As one of the largest urban parks in Europe with around 70 acres of green space, it is a beautiful place. Overlooking the Florian TV Tower, it has a diverse array of manicured lawns, colorful flower beds, wabi sabi-style koi ponds, shady woodlands, and a decent-sized lake at its lower end, complete with pedal boats in swan shape.
Over the four days of the festival, around 85,000 of Pokémon Go’s hardest fans walked through the doors, which even at the relatively cheap price of € 25 must have been a mint, with up to 200,000 registered players in and around town. .
People had come from all over the world to participate. I spoke to people from Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, Australia, Japan, Turkey and almost any other country you can think of.
For the lucky ones who got a golden ticket, the healing of the Pokémon catching experience in the park was brilliant and reminded me of the fantasy that I think a lot of people had when Pokémon Go first appeared. Walking through the rose bushes at the park entrance, he was greeted by starters from Sinnoh, Chimchar, Turtwig, and Prinplup, along with summery versions of Pikachu and Eevee wearing flower crowns.
But just a few feet away, around the corner, you can sit by a pond and get tons of Water Pokémon like Kabuto, Wooper, and Horsea. Being able to map so closely the type of Pokémon you could catch to your real world environment never goes out of style, especially when there was so much variety and so many rare Pokes on offer. And while Niantic’s games aren’t famous for their stability, despite some buzz about server errors and connection issues, the game ran largely flawlessly the entire time I was there.
Outside of the real-life landmarks, the park was divided into four main areas: Steel Factory, Rocky Terrain, Boat Lake, and Mysterious Woods. In addition to different Pokémon appearing, Niantic had built large flavor structures for each one, as if the ship’s lake had a tropical island gushing out water. Attendees were also given a special mission, with the promise of an encounter with the mythical singing Pokémon, Jirachi, at the end.
Outside of the coveted Legendary, the real reason everyone is there is to hunt down the rarest and most valuable Pokemon Go commodities – Shiny Pokemon.
With each encounter, there is a small chance that you will encounter an alternate color Pokémon called shiny. Some of them, like a male Blue Nidoran or a Green Bronzor, are quite subtle. A golden Magikarp is not. Since so many Pokémon are constantly popping up in the same location, you have a much better chance of catching them in an event like this than anywhere else.
I learned pretty quickly that if a Pokémon isn’t shiny, it could also live in a container with Trubbish. The only exception to this are region-exclusive Pokémon like Mr Mime, which is only in Europe, or Tauros, the US equivalent.Although most people already have both, it is Torkoal, Pachirisu, Relicanth, and Legendary. like Azelf the ones you really want.
You haven’t known discomfort until an enthusiastic Israeli man peruses your comparatively meager collection of Pokémon in the confined space of an elevator. So I made it my goal to get at least some decent highlights to bolster my credibility. You could at least save face a bit with a Tropius, which is unique to Africa and parts of the Mediterranean (but conveniently spawns in the Canary Islands as well).
Dortmund itself is a really quiet city and the perfect place to host an event like this. On an early summer night, it feels like the entire adult population of the city is skating across all available surfaces, sharing crates of beer, or eating ice cream outside one of the many roadside cafes.
With a population of almost 600,000, Dortmund is Germany’s eighth largest city overall and the largest in the historic province of Westphalia. Easily large enough to comfortably accommodate visiting Pokémon fans, but not too large that you don’t know anything out of the ordinary is going on.
After a successful run in Chicago and other festivals, this is the first year that a Pokémon event in Dortmund has been a ticketed event. This meant that over the course of the four days it was almost as if there were two centers for procedures: the main playing space in Westfalenpark, and three days of other players who had already played their day, or were waiting, roaming Pokestops drawn in. permanently. and raiding the gyms in the city center.
Every two weeks, more than 80,000 fans arrive at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, the largest football stadium in Germany. Dortmund is used to handling the influx of visitors, and the top brass of the local government welcomed the Pokémon challenge.
“The agency that came up with the idea to go to Dortmund brought us an official invitation from the mayor,” says Anne Beuttenmüller, Head of Marketing for EMEA at Niantic.
“We were very happy with the first event. The park is amazing, there are so many different areas: the rose garden, the playground, the little lake, it is the perfect place for players.
“And we see players who still want to experience the atmosphere of having so many players in the city. Because it feels like an acquisition, and they want to be in the spirit, that’s why they travel to the city without having a ticket and they just play in the city. “
Throughout my trip to Dortmund, there were hints that something big was happening in the world of Pokémon: a man wearing an OG 90s Psyduck T-shirt at the Brussels train station, a couple of families with children. in Pikachu pajamas, but as soon as I entered Dortmund, it was almost as if I had stepped off in a real life Ryme City of Detective Pikachu, a world full of people who love Pokémon and are very happy to wear it on their sleeve .
Literally. Everyone else is sporting an open piece of Pokémon merch, mostly T-shirts with team Mystic, Instinct, or Valor team insignia, or they are connected to a stash of power banks dangling from their belts like Pokeballs. Being in a place where everyone is so openly on the same page is a comforting feeling, as if you could strike up a conversation and be friends with anyone, and that sense of camaraderie was making everyone dizzy.
Despite its popularity, it’s rare to find a heist party unless you’ve hosted it with friends or through the game’s lively online community. Pokemon Go is a social game at its core, and it was exciting to find an environment where you could experience all of those multiplayer features to the fullest.
Sometimes, however, increasing the odds is not a remedy for old-fashioned bad luck. The game in the Westfalenpark lasted from 8 a.m. Until 6 p.m. M., but at 12:30, I still hadn’t caught any glitter to add to my trading stack.
“A good day so far?” a guy in a green Pokémon Go staff t-shirt asked me in the Team Instinct lounge near the Steel Factory.
“Some interesting things,” I replied. “But I still haven’t found any glitter.”
“Not glitters? He said, with a look of incredulous bewilderment, as if I had just told him that I brush my teeth with polyfiller, scrolling through the few I had found while sitting there.
After that exchange, I started to get a little angry, wherever I looked, people would get bright.
“Hears! This guy has pink legs! ”Exclaimed an elderly American man with his family in the rocky area.
“That’s Shiny Scyther,” his eldest son said, rolling his eyes.
“And pop is using a Pokeball,” chimed in a younger boy, “use your Ultra Ball!”
Further on, around the corner, I heard someone say that they were happy with the golden “Onixes” they had caught. Pluralization was another slap in the face.
And then it happened.
In that first Pokémon Go summer, there was one that got away. After tracking an Aerodactyl for half an hour through the small town where he lived, it disappeared before he could catch it. I ran for that Aerodactyl. The children laughed at me and called me sad. It was brutal.
He hadn’t seen another until one appeared among the trees next to the Mysterious Forest.
Instantly I knew I was going to hit the jackpot. When a glow appears, you see a flash of stars just to let you know things have gotten serious. Without taking any chances, I used the brilliant Aerodactyl with enough berries to knock out a Donphan and threw ultra balls like they were going out of style.
Before long, the giant purple rock bat was mine and it’s amazing and I love it.
By the end of the day, he had managed to bag 13 glitters – a pair of Scyther and two Larvitar were the other highlights.
When I left, I got chatting to a Belgian man wearing a bright blue camouflage that I had met earlier in the parking lot, and asked him to see his loot.
“I have 20 glitters here,” he said, pointing to the phone in his left hand. “And 20 more here, and here,” raising two more to his right.
He invited me to trade to complete one of the day’s mission objectives and offered me a Torkoal he had caught in Kuala Lumpur (from a fourth Pokémon phone he recovered from his car) but refused to accept anything special in return.
I thought it summed up the vibe of the whole festival. Pokémon has always been about sharing the fun of collecting with friends, and here were people from all corners converging on a fun place to swap stories, show off their curiosities, and enjoy their favorite hobby with other fans.
It may have only been for a weekend, but Go Fest 2019 was a real glimpse into a world obsessed with Pokémon.