If you were in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter last night, you couldn't have missed the hordes of pokémon trainers walking around in the game's distinctive red, yellow, and blue caps.
Hundreds of people had come together just outside the convention center to drink and play Pokémon Go, as part of an unofficial bar crawl put together over Facebook.
That Comic-Con would be taken over by Pokémon Go is perhaps not all that surprising — the game is just over two weeks old and still a phenomenon. What is surprising is that the huge gathering was largely put together by one fan. And it turned out to be one of the best events at the show.
"I'm still kind of a little shocked to be honest. I've always planned things, and no one's ever shown up," Caitlin Teasdale told me this afternoon. Teasdale (seen right in the tweet above) is the Pokémon fan who put together Friday night's event. She started a Facebook group for the bar crawl a little over a week ago, expecting maybe 15 people to find it. Almost 2,500 people ended up responding — and at least a few hundred showed up.
Teasdale worked with a handful of bars around the area to set up drink specials for Pokémon Go players. The end result being a brilliant excuse for people to stay out late, catch some pokémon, and meet fellow Comic-Con goers.
"I just wanted everyone to experience the Comic-Con bars that I have experienced the last eight years or so," Teasdale said. The whole point of the event, she said, was for "everyone to have fun and get drunk while catching pokémon, and I think they did that."
From my perspective, the best thing about Pokémon Go is the way it brings people together, letting you visit the same pokéstops, catch the same pokémon, and hang around at the same lures. It's more compelling as a reason to hang out than it is as a video game — and that seems to be what drew so many people to the bar crawl.
"I love meeting people, and what better way to meet people then just nerding out and drinking?" Kate Hunt, a fan along for the event, told me while out at one of the bars.
I visited two bars along the route, and both were packed with people in Pokémon hats (most, it seemed, for Team Valor). The unofficial crawl was popular enough that one battery pack company even sent out marketing reps with chargers to promote their brand (and keep phones charged, so people could keep playing Pokémon Go.)
"It's a community, I guess," said Wesley Rodriguez, who was at one of the crawl's first bars. "It's a safe haven for every one of us who have loved Pokémon during out childhood to hang out and drink together."
Almost all of of the event's planning was handled by Teasdale, though in the final days, Razer reached out to offer use of its booth as a staging area, as well as some gadgets to give away. Presumably, Razer also would have liked people to use RazerGo, its Pokémon Go chat app. Though only a few messages were sent the entire night (one of which was just "Testing").
Teasdale is already thinking about what she can do for Comic-Con 2017. "It's gonna be much bigger next year," she said. "I'm gonna make it crazier."
But will Pokémon Go still be big enough to draw such a huge crowd? "I will literally do anything," Teasdale said. "I can do a Game of Thrones pub crawl ... that would be fun."