You’ve seen it on Twitter, you’ve seen it on Facebook and you’ve seen it on at least one friend’s smartphone. Whether you have watched hoards of people crowding around a landmark with their phones in hand or noticed the Twitter hashtags that have been trending on and off, there is a great chance that you have encountered Pokémon Go. Launched July 6 of this year, the Nintendo app takes people out of the house and into the streets to capture and raise the popular Japanese “Pocket Monsters.”
The game is intended for all age groups, so it is no surprise that many students at Elizabethtown College can be seen strolling across campus, staring harshly at their phones. Though the game has been “dethroned” from its position at the top of the app store, according to Forbes, it still remains popular with casual and avid gamers alike.
Sophomore Ashlan Ruth has played Pokémon since she was young and was ecstatic when the mobile version came out. She downloaded it on the release day. Despite her excitement, she still had her fair share of apprehension.
“I had seen beta images and thought it may be a bit boring,” Ruth said. “Now that I have it, I do like it a lot, though.”
Ruth’s favorite feature is the encouragement of exercise. The game rewards players who move around the world with items to aid them on their journey, such as potions, Pokéballs and items to attract Pokémon to an area. These items can be located at PokéStops, which are programmed into the game at the coordinates of real-life locations. Statues, libraries and schools can qualify as PokéStops, and can be used once every five minutes to stock up on items. Etown offers several of these PokéStops on campus, plus more downtown.
Using the camera of your phone, Pokémon Go places wild Pokémon against the backdrop of the real world. This means that you can take screenshots of Pikachu, Charmander and Eevee at various locations across campus. The augmented reality adds a new layer of depth that no previous Pokémon game has offered.
Despite all of the interesting features that keep players invested, some players do have apprehensions about wandering the real world in search of Pokémon. Reports of muggings, car accidents and other dangers have contributed to the game’s social media trending. While this may worry some, Ruth is not concerned about playing the game around Etown.
“I don’t think we have anything to worry about on our campus,” Ruth said. “Some areas in large cities might be dangerous at night, but not around here.”
Etown’s security measures, including the LiveSafe app and the blue light telephones, are reassuring for students who may have to run across campus at midnight to catch a Snorlax. Ruth is not afraid of wandering campus to look for Pokémon, no matter what time of day it is.
“I would definitely bring friends with me, though,” Ruth said. “I wouldn’t go by myself.”
Ruth’s comment reflects part of the magic of Pokémon Go—the social aspect. The game has yet to implement its hyped-up trading feature, but players are invited to join one of three teams and train their Pokémon to win in gym battles. Team Mystic, the blue team, holds the local gyms, but the fairly recent influx of college students returning from summer break may still change that. Ruth is a member of Team Valor, the red team.
“I want to take the gyms on,” Ruth said. “I just have to train my Pokémon a bit more.”
Ruth showed interest in a campus-wide Pokémon event. Some cities have hosted Pokémon events for fans of all ages, so Ruth thinks that a campus event would be a great way to bond with other players.
The social aspect of the game is one that not many apps have. Etown should hop on the Pokémon Go train while it’s still going strong.