This weekend, tens of thousands of Pokémon trainers will descend on downtown and Seattle Center for Pokémon Go Fest, a three-day IRL event from July 22–24. This year's Go Fest marks the return of in-person Pokémon Go events since the start of Covid and is the second of a three-city tour; the first was held in Berlin earlier this month, and the third will take place in Sapporo, Japan, in early August.
"It's our first time bringing this event to Seattle, and we're so stoked because the Seattle Center and the destination is such an exciting location," explains Michael Steranka, director of Pokémon Go Live Game. "We've been working with local authorities and the travel bureau, and that's really made selecting this city a no-brainer."
For those not familiar with the art of flinging virtual poké balls at wild Hoppips and Zubats, here are the basics: Pokémon Go is an augmented reality mobile game where players (aka trainers) walk around to catch some 700 different kinds of Pokémon, battle at gyms or in raids, and visit PokéStops for supplies. Everything in the game is tied to a real-world location using your phone's GPS.
"We really want to promote exploration, exercise, and real-world social interactions," Steranka says. "Pokémon Go's mission is rooted in the real world, and the larger part of that experience is merged with the world around you."
When it comes to Go Fest in Seattle, Steranka adds there's something for newbies and gym-hardened trainers alike. The event, which is split between morning and afternoon sessions each day, will feature 80 Pokémon released for the first time, plus additional bonuses like more raid passes to participate in group battles, more trades with other players, and two unique research adventures (a guided checklist of goals for players, if you will).
If your head is spinning like a PokéStop photo disc, that's a pretty common reaction, Steranka says. "We just crossed our six-year anniversary, and we've done a lot to evolve the game over that time. We get a lot of feedback from players who are hopping back in to check it out, like, 'It's a completely different game.'"
For newbies, he adds, Go Fest is a chance to immerse yourself with others who enjoy the Pokémon Go universe. "The best part is really that you’ll be introduced to so many other players who are so welcoming and will be more than willing to show you the ropes and give you pointers throughout the day."