Murray State catches latest Pokémon Go wave

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By Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer 

When a new semester begins, students are pulled in several directions, but this year, one thing brought them together: Pokémon Go.

During the summer, Pokémon Go was released and those who were fond of the game in the ’90s began to explore the new version of their beloved pastime. This release also drew in nontraditional players.

The game can be downloaded on Apple or Android devices. While playing the game, a player has to physically walk around to navigate their avatar on the game. The player’s device will vibrate when a Pokémon is nearby. If the Pokémon is 20 feet in front of the avatar, then the player must travel those 20 feet to catch the Pokémon.

Last Friday, two students organized a Pokémon Go meetup last Friday at the Biology Building.

Brandy Baker, senior from Murray, and Megan Durbin, sophomore from Murray, decided that the first weekend after classes began would be a great time to start, what they hope to be the first of many, Pokémon Go meetups on campus.

Pokéstops, hubs where players can get supplies they need to play, are essential to the game. Some of the known stops on campus are located at the Biology Building, Heritage Hall, Wellness Center and more (see map on 6B.)

People who had never heard of Pokémon or were never interested in the once card game are now intrigued.

“I didn’t realize it would become this big of a thing,” said Sara Saunders, freshman from Scottsburg, Indiana. “It was really awesome to see all these new people getting into Pokémon that haven’t been playing since they were kids.”

Baker and Durbin lived in Murray during the summer and said they thought the game would be a lot more fun if other people were involved, which is why they were excited to set up a Pokémon Go meetup.

“We were here when it first came out over the summer, and it was dead,” Baker said. “But now we can see a difference in the game now that so many people are here and playing it.”

Ty Elrod, junior from Marshall County, said the Pokémon programming bases the Pokémon “spawning” on player density. This means the more players there are, the more Pokémon will be made available for capture.

Player density contributes to the power of each Pokémon. For instance, if there is an increase of players, there will be an equal increase in the power of Pokémon that can be caught.

Pokémon can be caught just about anywhere on campus, but if a player is ready to battle against other Pokémon trainers they have to join a gym. Currently, there are four Pokémon gyms on campus: Lee Clark Residential College, Rainey T. Wells statue, Cleanth Brooks Memorial and Sid Easley Alumni Center.

The game has become popular since the release, but there are some who don’t play and even some who criticize players because the game can cause players to be less aware of their surroundings.

Christopher Dawson, a CNN reporter, wrote an article on July 29 titled “A parents’ guide to Pokémon Go.” In this article, he explains the game to parents as well as warning them.

“The risk is beyond a few bumps and bruises when players find themselves near roads, rivers and high places,” wrote Dawson. “There have already been accidents, some serious, involving players too caught up in pursuit of capturing the adorable monsters.”

Players are advised by the loading screen in the game to pay attention to their surroundings in order to maintain safety.

If people are not playing the game, chances are their social media, at some point, was flooded with stories of people becoming so consumed with the game they were literally walking into traffic, falling into holes or even bodies of water.

CNN published a story, written by Janissa Delzo, titled “Men fall from cliff playing Pokémon Go”. The article talked about an incident where two men literally fell off a cliff in Encinitas, California, while hunting Pokémon.

Even though the game has been praised for being one that gets people up off the couch, on the other hand it is causing some people to be distracted.

Baker said she herself has been guilty of letting the game distract her, but she does her best to stay aware of her surroundings.

“I think that people who are prone to doing that, are prone to doing things like that anyway and critics are using the game as an excuse,” said Stephanie Mellar, senior from Clarksville, Tennessee. “Like people who play Pokémon Go and drive are probably people who already text and drive.”

No matter if students are playing the game, criticizing the game or noticing herds of other students playing Pokémon Go, it is a common topic.

Baker and Durbin were pleased with the turnout of their first Pokémon Go meetup and plan to have more in the future.