Pokémon Go: a common summer pastime

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Pokémon Go: a common summer pastime

Senior Ruoyun Zheng played Pokémon Go in between breaks at her internship at Berkeley. Berkeley’s Sather Tower is a poke stop many players frequent. First photo used with permission by Ruoyun Zheng. “Creative commons UC Berkeley Tower” John Loo

Senior Ruoyun Zheng played Pokémon Go in between breaks at her internship at Berkeley. Berkeley’s Sather Tower is a poke stop many players frequent. First photo used with permission by Ruoyun Zheng. “Creative commons UC Berkeley Tower” John Loo

Senior Ruoyun Zheng played Pokémon Go in between breaks at her internship at Berkeley. Berkeley’s Sather Tower is a poke stop many players frequent. First photo used with permission by Ruoyun Zheng. “Creative commons UC Berkeley Tower” John Loo

Senior Ruoyun Zheng played Pokémon Go in between breaks at her internship at Berkeley. Berkeley’s Sather Tower is a poke stop many players frequent. First photo used with permission by Ruoyun Zheng. “Creative commons UC Berkeley Tower” John Loo

Jessica Xing

Written by Dylan Tsai and Jessica Xing 

Pokémon was a huge part of senior Andrew Chang’s childhood. He saw it evolve from the DVDs to Nintendo games to trading cards. Now, his love for Pokemon has been rekindled with the new app Pokémon Go. This summer, when Niantic released their app Pokémon Go in the U.S. on July 9, veteran trainers and new players alike flocked to download the new app. By using a combination of GPS, augmented reality (when real world environments are supplemented with computer generated sensory input) and the Pokémon designs people know and love, Niantic Labs and Nintendo have allowed everyone to catch Pokémon and battle gym leaders all in real time.

From a survey of 116 MVHS students, 44% of students were caught in the global wave of Pokémon Go, with 28% playing daily. No matter where they were when the app was released, many MVHS students now walk with Pokémon Go on their phones.

How the game works

The game’s GPS feature allows it to map out your location. Based on where you are, different Pokémon can spawn at different times. There are eighteen different types of Pokémon, such as fire, grass and water; they dictate what moves the pokemon can learn and what they would be effective against — i.e fire beats grass, water beats fire, etc. Water type Pokémon usually spawn near bodies of water like lakes and rivers, while ghost or dark type Pokémon mostly appear during the night. You can catch the Pokémon using the augmented reality feature of the game, which allows the Pokémon to appear through the smartphone’s camera, giving the player a chance to catch the Pokémon in real time.

Since the GPS tracks your location, Pokéstops and gyms can show up on the map in your general vicinity as well. Pokestops are in any given area – just click on any of the floating blue cubes nearby. They can be restaurants, significant landmarks, parks,local churches, etc. Pokéstops give you items such as Pokéballs to catch more Pokémon and other useful items.

Gyms on the other hand are much bigger. At certain locations, there are gyms where you can battle other trainers. Players can pick an alliance with a certain team: Team Valor, Team Mystic or Team Instinct — teams named after different values players align with. When you beat a player and take their gym, you become the gym leader and the gym belongs to whichever team you first picked.

pokemon go infographic

Pokémon Go at MVHS

The game play mechanics are reminiscent of old Pokémon games in the past, so being able to finally experience that in real life has endeared the app to many veteran fans, such as Chang.

“Pokémon has always been a part of my childhood,” Chang said. “It was literally my first video game. And I got it with my DS –my first DS –so it was also the first game I had on my very first console. So Pokémon had a special place in my heart.”

When Pokémon Go first came out, Chang was lucky enough to be in New York City, where there are landmarks and attractions galore. Chang played at Union Square, Central Park and the South Side with a group of friends. In New York, he would beat and own gym locations such as the Empire State Building to jokingly show his friends what major landmarks he can own.

“I thought I would be pretty nervous by myself in New York,” Chang said. “But once I actually got there, the people were actually very friendly and they’ll help you out:  ‘oh, there’s this good Pokémon over there’, ‘what team are you’ ‘oh I’m on that team too, high five’ —  [Pokémon Go] gets people to talk to each other.”

Chang also recommends going to Memorial Park and Guadalupe Park near Valley Fair Mall (especially during the night).

People playing Pokemon Go at Grand Army Plaza, New York. Senior Andrew Chang played Pokemon Go on his trip to New York. Photo used with permission of Andrew Chang

People playing Pokemon Go at Grand Army Plaza, New York. Senior Andrew Chang played Pokemon Go on his trip to New York. Photo used with permission of Andrew Chang

Senior Ruoyun Zheng played Pokémon Go between breaks at her internship at Berkeley.

“You’ll have college kids playing it,” Zheng said. “There would be a lot of summer camps on campus so you’ll then see little kids playing it — on top of that  there’s a lot of tourists visiting, so you’d see many overseas tourists and they’d also be playing it. It was just an experience shared with so many different people.”

According to Zheng, there was a building just off the street near a Starbucks, so on some days people could sit on the lawn and be right in the middle of three pokestops and a gym. People wouldn’t even have to move to battle other trainers, collect items or catch new Pokémon. Some other popular places were a restaurant right next to Zheng’s bus stop called Pizza Kong, and of course, the famous Berkeley tower.

“One thing I noticed, where I was working in the lab, there was a ton of older aged people,” Zheng said. “Normally I wouldn’t talk to them because they’re 10 or 20 years older, but because we all played this game we all had something in common.”

Senior Ruoyun Zheng played Pokemon Go in between breaks at her internship at Berkeley. Berkeley’s Sather Tower is a poke stop many players frequent. First photo used with permission by Ruoyun Zheng. “Creative commons UC Berkeley Tower” John Loo

Senior Ruoyun Zheng played Pokemon Go in between breaks at her internship at Berkeley. Berkeley’s Sather Tower is a poke stop many players frequent. First photo used with permission by Ruoyun Zheng. “Creative commons UC Berkeley Tower” John Loo.

Senior Catherine Yi is a veteran Pokémon fan. As a child, Yi often watched Pokémon DVD’s checked out from the library. Even during family trips, the family would bring their portable DVD player to watch Pokémon DVD’s on during the car ride. But she never played any Pokémon’s games until now/

Now, Yi always brings her phone during her walks to Jollyman Park and Memorial Park. Pokémon Go is Yi’s first game. Unlike the previous Pokémon games, Yi sees a value in Pokémon Go that almost no other video games have.

“Nobody gets to go outside anymore, a lot of the video games and app[s] you can do literally sitting in your bed,” said Yi. “Pokémon Go gets you to run around, yet still involves the fun and engaging part of video games.”

Video by Aditya Krishnan and Anthony Moll