The millions of people playing the augmented reality mobile game Pokémon Go this week obviously want to catch ‘em all, but it’s hard to know where they all are.
Entrepreneurial-minded fans of the game have set out to solve the problem with a crowdsourced map of Pokémon sightings, which has already seen 662 submissions from 3,000 users in the first two hours of its launch.
The interactive map called PokéMapper, started by the founders of a long distance ride sharing app called OpenRide, displays color-coded bubbles around the world corresponding to the creature’s location and element type (red bubbles are fire types, green are grass, and so on).
It’s still extraordinarily early, but the creators hope the database will grow with user submissions so that players can not only seek out specific locations for rare Pokémon, but also learn more about what kinds of areas generate different kinds of Pokémon.
One of the early problems however, is the lack of accountability, which has generated a number of dubious submissions. For example, someone is currently claiming to have found a Magikarp out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and there are several submissions in Indonesia, where the app isn’t officially available.
Jonah Bliss, director of community for OpenRide, tells Inverse that once more data comes in, the company will flag and eliminate obviously fraudulent submissions. Users have to login to Facebook first before they can submit a sighting, so it will be fairly obvious when Sally in Texas spams 1,000 submissions from China to Los Angeles. Just don’t plan a trip to Canada yet, just because one user claims to have found a Mewtwo (don’t freak out, no one has claimed to, yet).
Currently, there’s only search functionality for specific species of Pokémon. Filter results based on the type of Pokémon aren’t available yet.
Even with the limited number of submissions, there is a lot of interesting data to parse. Bliss says they’ve found a surprising amount of grass type Pokémon around Death Valley, which flies in the face of the idea that the landscape represents the elemental type of the Pokémon.
There are spottings of the illustrious Pikachu in Beverly Hills, on 1st Ave in New York City’s East Village, and in remote places such as Lancaster, Ohio. Generally, electric types seem to be drawn to big urban cities, while fire types are more concentrated in the south. Water types, so far, do in fact appear around water, but no determinable pattern is emerging for psychic types.
As owners of a ride-sharing site, Bliss says they hope to one day use this data to organize trips to go catch the rarest of Pokémon.