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An old pastime made new: Pokémon GO

Some FHS students spent their summer playing the new version of Pokémon GO on their smartphones.

Pokemon GO on a smartphone
This is what Pokémon GO looks like on a smartphone. Photo by Alison Watkins.

Do you find that people are on their phones more than usual lately, maybe yelling "I caught it!"? That's because of Pokémon GO, the smash hit application downloadable from multiple app stores. It came out in mid-July and was an overnight success. It had over 15 million downloads, three weeks post-launch. After 20 years, Pokémon went from a kids videogame on the Gameboy to an any-age, anywhere, anyhow mobile game.

In the original versions you went around in a game looking for "Pocket Monsters" or Pokémon in hopes of "catchin'em all.” This is all while sitting down inside looking at the Gameboy for them. Players used to do this for 20 games over 20 years. Pokémon GO has changed it from sitting inside to going outside and looking for Pokémon in the real world.

Pokémon GO is where old and new players can catch and collect virtual Pokémon in the real world. The game is "Argumentative Reality," or AR, so called because it blends reality with the game itself. The game takes place everywhere on a Google Maps-type setting.

The game has "PokéStops" that are places where people can visit and gain virtual loot. The game's program chooses places that are "one-of-a-kind," such as art, sculptures, and fountains. Other places are always chosen as a PokéStop through a generator, such as churches, parks, and city halls; most museums are as well.

Certain places, like PokéStops, are called gyms. At gyms, players fight in game against other players to hopefully take over a gym for their own team. They are split into three teams: Valor, Mystic, and Instinct. Players can train at gyms that are the same as the team they chose at the start of the game. Players can fight against opposing teams and strengthen their own team. Players train in order to gain experience points to gain levels.

Pokémon GO has gotten geeks and nerds off the couch. Players now go outside to find and experience the game and life. This has proven to be a bad and good thing. People have been seriously injured while playing and not paying attention. Pokémon has changed its game from safe inside to dangerous outside, yet it is still popular as ever.

"You meet a bunch of Pokemon fans and you can even meet up and go hunting with them, which is pretty amazing," said Berkeley Gamblin, a junior at Foothill High School.

Not everyone, however, is on board with the Pokemon craze.

"It has its players walking into death traps and walls," said junior Dom Buzinski of Foothill High School.

Even though some of the Pokémon-playing population may get hurt playing the newest Pokémon game, some places have been able to use the games addictive qualities and the need to walk around to their advantage. Hospitals and senior centers have used Pokémon GO as a way to get the young and old out of bed and walk around. The addictive qualities make the game fun for all ages to compete. It is basically a scavenger hunt for "Pokémon" that anyone can participate in. The need to find the game creatures make it fun for the old and young.

Other players have gone to the hospitals and senior centers to drop off Pokémon, attracting lures at the PokéStops to help the players with disabilities catch more Pokémon.



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