I never got to play the old 8-bit Pokemon games *gasp* big shock! Growing up, my parents hardly got me any videogames, I watched a lot of the anime though, enough to be able to tell "Who is that Pokemon?" Flash forward to the summer of 2016, and if you don't know about Pokemon GO or what is it about, you were living under a rock. Niantic released Pokemon GO and it blew up! This game had an "augmented reality concept to it, meaning it provided an interactive experience where ones' real-world surroundings are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. You could walk around your neighborhood, and see Pokemon appear in front of you through your screen. Catch 'em all in the real world! The game was so big the media was making cheesy Pokemon GO references.
Graphic poster used at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to advocate for road safety. "Don't Pokemon Go to the hospital"
People were playing Pokemon GO left and right. At the time, I was in South Texas, and playing was difficult for two reasons. First, I didn't have a car and if you don't have a car in South Texas you can't get anywhere, Second, South Texas in the middle of summer is literally as hot as hell. I cannot be outside for more than 10 minutes without questioning my choices and hating myself. Regardless, it was still quite popular. There was this huge catholic church near where I lived which had a big garden with trails that had statues along the way and all of these statues were pokestops in the game which give you items as you spin them. This was the place to be to play Pokemon GO, but so many people were going to the church grounds just to play Pokemon GO that the priest actually got annoyed. Other stories came out of people invading property to be able to get Pokemon, accidents for not paying attention while walking, and even people playing and driving. But overall, I would argue that this was not the games' fault whatsoever. People choose to play irresponsibly. I moved to Lincoln for college at the end of that summer, and one of the things I was excited about as I started a new chapter of my life was to be able to walk around campus and play Pokemon GO. Parties? Nah, Pokemon GO.
The game seemed to have died off after a few months after its release, and I actually stopped playing it myself. Though despite my 8 GB of memory space in my old phone and the struggle I had to have space, I never deleted the app. I would still see big groups of people walking around on campus looking at their phones and tapping repeatedly. I knew they were all playing Pokemon GO, and that there must be a group where they all plan to meet and play. I wanted to join the fun.
I didn't join the Lincoln Pokemon GO community until some time in the spring of 2018. There are two main Facebook groups for Lincoln, one with about 1636 members and another with 5,877 members and they are both very active. These groups made me actually take part in meeting up with people to play Pokemon GO, and I got hooked again. I was constantly checking my phone to catch rare and shiny pokemon so that I could show them off at the facebook groups, and I participated in the game's events. A few weeks later, I happen to catch a group battling in a raid on campus and they added me to the UNL Pokemon GO group chat, exclusive to students and staff of UNL. Being part of the community made the game much more fun, and it was an example in which a video game allowed people to connect and socialize with each other.
Pokemon Snapshot I took at UNL
Today, Pokemon GO offers much more than it did in 2016. Some of the things that have changed since then:
- If you are going faster than possible walking/running distance (if you're in a car, bus or bike), it will not allow you to spin pokestops.
- Dynamic weather and spawns. If it's raining, you will encounter more water-type Pokemon. If it's snowing, ice-type Pokemon.
- You can add friends in Pokemon GO, and you can send gifts and trade Pokemon.
- PVP trainer battles with friends.
- Team Rocket battles.
- Field research and special research tasks.
- Raid battles and legendary Pokemon.
- Shiny and lucky Pokemon.
- Community Day. This is a monthly event where at a particular day, there will be a higher spawn of a specific Pokemon with higher chances of getting a shiny. I've gone to a community day right after we had a snowstorm walking through a foot of snow. Yes, I am committed.
- Pokemon Snapshot, which allows you to take creative pictures of the Pokemon you've caught.
- The ability to change teams (I know, everyone wants to be in Team Valor).
- You can link your Apple Health or Google Fit to track your steps without having Pokemon GO open. At the end of the week, you get rewards for how much you walked.
- New Pokemon Generations.
The best spots in Lincoln are both the UNL city campus and east campus, Antelope Park, and the Haymarket Area. I've heard in the Facebook groups that the north 27th Walmart area is really good for rare and shiny spawns in community days, despite not having a big pokestop density, but I have not tried it myself.
Anyways, maybe it is time for people to give Pokemon GO another chance. Get out there and have fun! Stay warm and safe with winter right around the corner!