In 1996, the Pokémon craze took off in the United States, and it never went away.
In fact, Pokémon is still celebrated around the world, and the release of the mobile game “Pokémon Go” has secured its relevance. The app came out this summer; months later, N.C. Central University students still play the game.
“Pokémon Go” is free and available to iOS, Android, and Apple users. Created by the company Niantic Inc., the app allows users to go outdoors and catch Pokémon on their phones. By using their smart phone’s camera and GPS, players can live out their dreams of becoming a Pokémon Master through augmented reality.
Eliran Nunez, a biology and pharmaceutical science senior, has been swept up in the “Pokémon Go” wave. He’s been playing the game since it was released (after he cleared out enough storage space on his phone).
“Overall, I like it,” Nunez said. “The game is just a tremendous battery hog on my phone. I had to do a lot of, you know, rooting and fixing up my phone. Cleaning up and deleting stuff.”
After his phone purge, Nunez joined others and began catching them all. Eventually, he came across Pokémon on campus.
Nunez said he found a Nidorina, a poison Pokémon, this summer at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
Students say there are a few other PokeStops on campus: The Women’s Center, the gazebo near the library, and the LED sign in front of the Farrison-Newton Communications Building.
Business senior Erim Akpan said she has a lot of experience playing Pokémon Go on campus. She said the location of her classes in relation to PokeStops makes playing throughout her day easier.
“I’m generally in range of one at all times, so in between classes I’ll get stuff from it,” said Akpan, adding that she sometimes comes to NCCU just to play, even in summer before her classes.
“It’d be like two hours doing work, then my last hour walking around going to PokeStops,” she said.
According to Bloomberg, “Pokémon Go” peaked in early July with 45 million active users. Since August, the numbers have fallen to around 30 million active players. This could explain the scarcity of players on Central’s campus today.
“You know, I want to say, other than the Art Club it’s been really hard to find people who play it,” said Akpan. “More so people who will admit they play it.”
Akpan said that while playing the app on campus, she has never encountered anyone else playing. Nunez didn’t find fellow “Pokémon Go” players on campus either.
Despite the reduced number of players, the “Pokémon Go” craze seems to have rekindled the fire that Pokémon set ablaze 20 years ago. It has brought people together in their shared love for the Pokémon franchise without shame.
“It’s still kind of a nerdy thing, but so many people are doing it you don’t feel bad about it,” Akpan said.
The game is still available for free download. Just recently, according to Niantic’s homepage, “Pokémon Go” has become available in 31 additional countries.
Apparently, it’s never too late to go out and “Catch ‘em all.”