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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Pokémon GO Catches Success

Pokémon GO Catches Success
Ross Reelachart
Technology Editor

“Pokémon GO,” the mobile game app released in beta on July 6, in less than a week has taken the world by storm. Developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices, “Pokémon GO” is a mobile game centered around the titular world of Pokémon, tasking users with exploring their communities in search of Pokémon and gyms to capture. “Pokémon GO,” already, has created a massive community with its own fair share of interesting stories regarding its “go out into the world and explore” style of gameplay.

For the uninitiated, “Pokémon” is a cross-media franchise that includes video games, tv shows, movies, collectible cards and other merchandise. Featuring the titular Pokémon, the franchise is set in a world where trainers capture, train and do battle with these creatures. The massive appeal of trying to “Catch ‘em all,” or trying to capture all 721 Pokémon, has kept the franchise alive and well since 1995.

“Pokémon GO” leverages this collective mindset with the near universal appeal of the franchise and the nostalgia of many gamers put into a rather simple mobile game that has people up and walking around at all hours to catch Pokémon. Players, using their phones, must physically travel around their community to find and catch Pokémon for their collections, or to claim fictional gyms for one of three teams that they align themselves within the game.

Besides the fact that Nintendo and Niantic have convinced a massive number of gamers to go outside and walk around, “Pokémon GO” seems to also be succeeding in creating a lively and physical community around it. As players walk around in search of Pokémon, they meet other players and bond over the mutual fondness for the game and its creatures. Chances are high that ODU will have a sizeable community of Pokémon trainers shortly or in the coming fall semester.

Due to the quirks of the game, there are already strange and interesting stories popping up that involve the game in some way. “Pokémon GO” is such a hit that the Niantic computer servers are unable to handle all the new players, leading to some glitches and complaints from users. While most users complain, at least one player is offering to help, which was a good offer considering that it came from Amazon’s own Chief Technology Officer. Sometimes the placement and location of Pokémon gyms can be awkward, leading to some unique adventures, such as when two women from Wellington, New Zealand took a kayak to an off-shore fountain to capture the gym that was placed there.

Nintendo also has some good news of its own. The release of “Pokémon GO” has been so successful that the company’s stock price rose almost 25 percent and added $7.5 billion to its market value.

However, even something as innocent as Pokémon is not immune from its share of unfortunate happenings. One of the biggest stories from the release of “Pokémon GO” was the discovery of a dead body by a Wyoming woman who just “wanted to go get a water Pokémon.” Fortunately, this was not a case of foul play, but the result of a possible accidental drowning. Police around the areas where “Pokémon GO” has gotten big have noticed the uptick in activity too, for better and worse. There are anecdotes about police officers joining in with their own phones, or offering assistance to players wandering at night or in dangerous areas. But sometimes, they must also warn players to watch where they are going, and to not play “Pokémon GO” when behind the wheel, as the Tennessee Highway Safety Office has stated.

So the lesson with “Pokémon GO” is to go out and have fun with other Pokémon enthusiasts in the real world, but be safe about it as we “Gotta catch ’em all!” Together, we can all try to be the very best, like no one ever was.