Bid to host Pokemon event

Catch 'em all: Campbelltown Councillor Ben Gilholme thinks a council-sponsored Pokemon Go event would encourage tourism in the area. Picture: Simon Bennett
Catch 'em all: Campbelltown Councillor Ben Gilholme thinks a council-sponsored Pokemon Go event would encourage tourism in the area. Picture: Simon Bennett

No Squirtle, Bulbasaur or Pikachu in Campbelltown will be safe if Campbelltown councillor Ben Gilholme gets his way.

The Labor councillor – a self-confessed member of the “nerd culture” community – has asked Campbelltown Council staff to investigate the feasibility of hosting a Pokemon Go event in the area to attract players and boost tourism.

At the last council meeting he requested the council contact the creators of the Pokemon brand to get permission to hold such an event. Cr Gilholme said the game attracted a wide demographic of dedicated players who would travel to engage in a specific event.

“This game has attracted an audience that’s beyond just nerd culture,” he said.

“What I’ve seen from other events is that you get people playing who are young, people who are old – all types of people. In July we had a huge group of people out at Mawson Park at 2am in the morning playing Pokemon.

“Many of them were using the smartbench that was on trial in the park at the time too, which shows a great interaction with technology.”

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality smartphone app which allowed players to ‘catch’ virtual Pokemon characters within the real world.

When the game was first released last year it caused a worldwide frenzy and sparked an event similar to Cr Gilholme’s proposal to be held in Camden.

He said holding an event in Campbelltown would not just bring more people to the area but it would also encourage physical activity for participants.

“This fits in with our healthy lifestyles plans in Campbelltown,” he said. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity and if we include the Pokemon creators in this process there is more capability to bring tourism back to the city.

“The creators have run four major events this year and Australia has not had any, so we have the opportunity to bring that forward.”

Cr Gilholme also said that several Pokestops – virtual checkpoints where players can collect resources – were found at significant Macarthur landmarks include St Peter’s Anglican Church, the old Commonwealth Bank and the old court house.

Fellow Labor councillors Darcy Lound, Margaret Chivers, Masood Chowdhury and mayor George Brticevic all showed enthusiasm for the plan, however Liberal councillor George Greiss remained unconvinced.

“Participant numbers have declined,” Cr Greiss said.

“There’s a lot of research out there.”

An unrelated Pokemon Go event was held at Airds on Sunday, attracting about 60 people.