“Pokemon Go” takes over campus

If you’ve been on social media in the past week or so, news feeds everywhere have been filled with talk about Pokemon Go. The Pokemon franchise, now in it’s 20th year, put out another mobile game. This time though, instead of being a puzzle-focused game, The Pokemon Company teamed up with Niantic Inc to create the internet sensation.

Oakland University's campus has two Pokémon gyms and 32 Pokéstops.
Screenshot provided by Cheyanne Kramer
Oakland University’s campus has two Pokémon gyms and 32 Pokéstops.

Why is Pokemon Go a thing?

One answer comes from April Fools day. In 2014, Google released the original 151 Pokemon as 3D models all across the globe, and players could use Google Maps to try and hunt down as many Pokemon as they could. IGN even published an article, stating where every Pokemon could be found for hopeful players to try and “Catch ‘em all”. (x)

However, CEO of the Pokemon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, said in an interview on the Pokemon.com website (x). In part, he said the inspiration from the game came from the concept that Pokemon that existed virtually were able to bring real-world players together.

From this idea, Ishihara said he was invited to play the Beta of a new game called Ingress. Ingress is a virtual-reality capture-the-flag game, which has many portals all across the globe. Similar to the Pokestops, there are numerous Ingress portals all across campus.

Niantic INC was the company  that made Ingress, and Ishihara’s admiration for how the virtual game brought real-world players together is what eventually led to the creation of Pokemon Go.

The basics of Pokemon Go are pretty simple. You walk around in the real world, and as you walk, you have a chance to encounter wild Pokemon. You start with some incense items, which lure Pokemon closer to you, and you get a collection of Pokeballs. If a Pokemon appears in the overworld on your map, tap on it. It will iniate a Pokemon battle.

But unlike the Nintendo handheld games, you don’t have to weaken the Pokemon to catch it. Simply flick the screen to try and aim your Pokeball at it, and if it hits the Pokemon before hitting the ground, then you have a chance at capturing it. Some Pokemon may break free and run from the encounter, though.

Once you’ve walked around and caught enough Pokemon to reach Level 5, you have to pick from one of three teams: Valor, Mystic, or Instinct. Teams aren’t very crucial to anything besides gyms. If your team has a gym under it’s control, you can add Pokemon to it to try and defend it from opposing teams. If another team has claimed a gym, you can battle the Pokemon inside of it by tapping the screen once for a simple attack, or hold down the screen for a special attack.

Most of the above isn’t told to you directly in game, and there are some helpful walkthroughs online for confused players.

Many people have found that Pokemon Go is doing exactly what Pokemon Company aimed for- bringing real-world players together over a virtual reality game. With Oakland University’s campus having multiple gyms and countless Pokestops, it isn’t shocking to see some Pokemon with incredibly high Combat Power already claiming the Elliott Clock Tower gym.

Pokemon Go might have other social connotations as well. The Guardian recently put out an article explaining that Pokemon Go might be the answer to America’s obesity epidemic (x). And with USA Today reporting that there has been over 15 million downloads of the game in the week that the game has been out (x), it seems like Pokemon Go isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Students at OU are defending the game’s presence on campus, too.

“I don’t see why it would affect my classes,” Max Pelkey, junior student and employee at Kresge Library, said. “It hasn’t with my summer classes”.

“And I know I’ll make friends,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing more people on campus walking around and enjoying it”.