Adventure Arkansas: PokemonGO

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Millions of people all over the world now have Pokemon in their pockets, and it’s getting many families look for the creatures in their own backyards.

Our own 5NEWS Pokemon Expert Sean Bailey takes us around Fort Smith with tips to catch em all while helping out the community.

In 1817, The First Fort Smith was founded to establish peace between the Osage and Cherokee tribes.

Flash forward nearly 200 years later and the Fort Smith Historic site is still a battleground -- but this time its a mecca for millennials and families battling and collecting virtual monsters with PokemonGO.

“It’s cool to see these places being pointed out to people," said Brandon Looper, who's been playing Pokemon for 20 years. "That way when they get there, they can be like, 'What’s this? Let’s explore the real world for a moment.'"

As the Looper and Goss families explored, each of the monuments from the past now have a new life as a Pokestop, where they can collect items and even Pokemon eggs.

These eggs hatch into random Pokemon after walking 2, 5 or 10 kilometers. While you’re incubating your virtual monsters, you can also turn those kilometers into cash for real local animals in need.

"What can happen is you can pair up PokemonGO and get Walk For A Dog app which is a free app on your phone," said Amber Neal, humane education director. "You download it and enter the shelter you want, which would be the Sebastian County Humane Society and the more you walk, the more money you raise."

The Walk For a Dog App usually donates between 11 to 25 cents to the shelter for each mile walked, and both the PokemonGO and Walk For a Dog Apps are free.

The game can also build relationships with real life canines, who can be your sidekicks like Pikachu.

“You can run it in the background as you’re catching Pokemon or hatching eggs, and if you want to take it a step further, you can come to the shelter and walk a shelter dog to do that too," Neal said. "Or you can get your dogs at home and get them plenty of exercise.”

If training Pokemon is your cause, some local businesses, parks, and churches have been virtually transformed into battle stadiums, known as gyms. This is where three different teams of trainers attempt to control the roughly 50 gyms across the city of Fort Smith.

Time Machine Collectibles, a hobby shop on Rogers Avenue and a gym, now has an added incentive to having trainers be the very best like no one ever was, giving a 10 percent discount to the gym leader.

"Encouraging it, I think just keeping people going out, and doing this stuff and promoting it and hopefully it will evolve into something that will be a new social media game that people can do," said Hank Fawcett, co-owner of Time Machine Collectibles.

"It gets you outside, gets you exploring and it brings smiles to families faces," Looper said.

Whether it’s with your best friends with four legs or new friends along the river, PokemonGo’s social impacts will continue to make this an adventure. That wraps up this week’s Adventure Arkansas.

A map of Pokemon Gyms in the area can be found here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=19D8hIzVLlebg5SeZq_7BLRX1h7Y&usp=sharing

Segment Sponsored By: Adventure Subaru