Observing New York City’s Pokémon Go Players in the Wild

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Observing New York City’s Pokémon Go Players in the Wild
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Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

In just two short weeks, Pokémon Go has become about as ubiquitous in New York City as yellow cabs, overpriced apartments, and freakishly large rats—and like the latter, the epicenter for the phenomenon is the city’s parks, where rare Pokémon abound and clusters of players congregate to swipe at their screens at all hours.

While only a few of us in the office actually play (*raises hand*), there’s no escaping conversations around the game, whether it’s about its potential merits as a dating app or about why players seem to keep stumbling across dead bodies.

MORE: How Pokémon Go Is Changing the Way I Think About Shoes

So, we were all curious: Who are some of the country’s nearly 10 million estimated daily active users? And could Pokémon Go street style be a thing? Naturally, we had to at least try, so we enlisted photographer Ally Lindsay and set out to Central Park, Union Square, and Washington Square Park to meet Pokémon trainers in their natural habitat—a slightly different scene than outside the shows at New York Fashion Week, but not without its characters.

We met locals and tourists; teens and twentysomethings; die-hard gamers and newbies—even an IRL trainer from Equinox, pictured above (and no, there’s no Pokémon gym in his gym—I asked). We also realized just how many people in New York walk around staring at their screens—I’ve gotten pretty good at discerning when someone’s texting and when someone’s trying to catch a Zubat. Ahead, meet a few of the city’s roaming players—I promise they’re friendlier than their face-in-phone poses might suggest.

MORE: Real Talk: Is Pokémon Go the New Tinder?

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Patsy, 29, from Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Do you collect anything other than Pokémon? "I collect dance videos—I'm an archivist, so that's not wildly surprising, but I have a pretty good personal collection of them, mostly modern and postmodern."

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Seoyoung An, 22, from South Korea

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Matt, 21, and Emily, 20, from High Park, New York

"We usually go around on our scooters. This is the best way to hatch the eggs." - Emily

"It's kind of cheating." - Matt

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

"Last night at Union Square we got a group of us walking around just going to the different Pokéstops." - Emily

"It's cool, the game brings out a lot of really friendly people. I don't know if it's because we all have a common interest and something to talk about, but everyone that plays is just super friendly." - Matt

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Brian, from Brooklyn, New York; Peyton, from Upper East Side, Manhattan; Jai, from Upper West Side, Manhattan; and Tyler, Gary, and Daniel, from Queens, New York

What levels are you on? "17," "23," "22," "21." Are you guys hunting? "Not really hunting, more camping out." How did you all meet? "Through school and mutual friends. I met Brian last week playing Pokémon in Chinatown." - Peyton

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Siara, 17, from Astoria

Do you collect anything other than Pokémon? "I collect snow globes. I'm one of those people."

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

John, 30, and Nadia, 25, from Burlington, Ontario

"I caught a Venusaur at Yankee Stadium yesterday." Was everyone at the game playing? "Yeah, pretty much." - John

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Susana, 27, from Bensonhurst, New York

Where do you usually shop? "I've been using Depop a lot lately and just following people and buying off of them. I don't like to buy brands all the time—I always like to do vintage shopping, too. I got a vintage purple Victorian-style dress on Depop for like three bucks, plus shipping. It's really long and ruffled—I don't know when I'm going to wear it, but it was like the best find ever."

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Ju-kyung, 28, and Hana, 27, from South Korea

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Leslie, 21, from Brooklyn, New York, and Liza, 21, from Brooklyn, New York

"My mom just started playing, too, and she wears heels. Last time we were out, I was like, 'Why are you wearing that?! You should wear something more comfortable, because we're going to be walking for a while.'" - Liza

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Gianni, 18, and Daniel, 19, from Brooklyn, New York

Pokémon gym or IRL gym? "Both. There's a Pokémon gym right near my gym, so that works out. I'll just play in between sets." Did you buy the shirt before or after the app release? "Before. I actually have three or four of these shirts with different Pokémon: I have one with a Squirtle and there's one with Jigglybuff." - Gianni

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Shefali, 15, from New Jersey, and Ria, 16, from Florida

"We're in New York for the Justin Bieber concert. We don't collect the merchadise—it's too expensive—but I just caught a Pikachu." - Shefali

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Jason, 24, from Mahattan

What's been your biggest "get" so far? "I caught a Pinsir in Williamsburg that was question-marked and it was 950 CP."

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Do you collect anything other than Pokémon? "I have probably the most ridiculous 'Game of Thrones' memorabilia collection out of anyone you will ever meet. [The Iron Throne] is the only thing I don't have. I keep it all in a room in my country house up on a wall in a museum sort of fashion."

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Matthew, 30, from Washington Heights, Manhattan; Sarah, 30, from Astoria, Queens; and Noah, 25, from Brooklyn, New York

"I'm also a birder, so going out and looking for little critters in the wild is a thing that I do in real life. I used to be a park ranger for the city, so keeping an eye on birds was part of my job. There are definitely similarities between birding and Pokémon—you go out and see what's there and try to find the cool ones." - Sarah

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Henry, 17, from Manhattan

If someone gave you $10 right now, would you spend it on lure modules or food? "Oof, that's a tough question. I'd actually have to go with food."

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Terrell, 29, from Inwood, Manhattan; Nikki, 25, from Los Angeles, California; Chloe, 21, from North Carolina

Do you collect anything other than Pokémon? "Instagram followers." - Nikki [Ed note: help them catch 'em all at @nikkiharlowxo@chloklapish, and @justcallme_t.]

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Hilary, 26, from East Village, Manhattan

"Oh, hey, it's me! You can't tell, but the game froze while I was trying to catch a Wartortle as this photo was being taken. Tragic."

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Players in Union Square

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Kristy, 17, from Galloway, New Jersey, and Vivian, 26, from Astoria, Queens

"New York is a good place to play—there are a lot of rare Pokémon here. In New Jersey there's mostly common just Pokémon—yesterday I was running around campus exercising while, like, stopping at Pokéstops." - Kristy

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Do you collect anything other than Pokémon? "Men's hearts." - Vivian

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

Fei, 14, and Kiki, 15, from Queens, New York

"I forgot what color backpack she had when I got this, so now we match." - Kiki

Photo: Ally Lindsay/STYLECASTER

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