As you make your way to class, a wild Charmander has spawned right behind the Business Administration Building in Edinburg. At the same time in Brownsville, a group of students battle to take control of the Pokémon gym at the Biomedical Research Building.
Pokémon Go, the latest in the extensive list of Internet trends, is a location-based, augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic.
At the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, like across the country, the sensation of the new Pokémon Go app has sparked an active trend among people of all ages.
Music education junior Justine Peña is a Pokémon Go player in Edinburg.
“It’s fun. It’s just real life. It’s, like, out there you have to actually go get things,” Peña said. “I never played Pokémon games until this, this was my first. It’s really entertaining, especially if you’re a fan.”
The Brownsville and Edinburg campuses offer numerous Pokéstops, specific locations where players can receive items, eggs and experience points. The campuses are also the site of several Pokémon gyms, where players can battle for territorial dominance.
Once players reach Level 5, they can choose to join Team Instinct (yellow), Team Valor (red) or Team Mystic (blue).
Pokémon Go has made community members physically active as it encourages players to walk and explore their surroundings to catch Pokémon and hatch eggs. Hatching eggs will earn players more Pokémon.
At both campuses, groups of individuals can be seen walking around playing the game at different times throughout the day.
The University Police Department is aware of the game’s popularity and the many Pokéstops on the campuses. Last Tuesday, the department tweeted safety tips for the campus community. They include:
–do not play while driving
–watch where you are walking at all times
–stop while you are catching a Pokémon
–do not play Pokémon Go in a secluded area
–be extra cautious when approached by strangers
Alfonso de la Fuente, a Brownsville Lopez Early College High School senior, said he enjoys playing the game at the university because of the multiple Pokéstops found on campus.
“You actually need to be outside and walking, which you can get some physical exercise and it really involves a lot of walking,” de la Fuente said. “It’s a really good game. I recommend it here [at the university] a lot.”
The university’s Marketing and Communications department has provided game maps for the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses at utrgv.edu/umc/public-relations/social-media/pokemon-go-tips.
Locations are not limited to university grounds. Pokémon can be found in parks, downtown areas, neighborhoods and anywhere across the country.
This is no ordinary application game in the world of mobile entertainment; this is the long-awaited expansion of the game many young adults played as children.
Pokémon Go was released on July 6 and became immensely popular during its first 24 hours.
Pokémon is the brand of a successful series of video games and television shows. The first game was released for the Nintendo Gameboy in 1996 in Japan and two years later, for North America and the rest of the world.
Since its inception, the Pokémon brand has gained massive popularity around the world. The so-called pocket monsters were present everywhere, from television spots to trading cards and fast-food toys.
It has been two decades since Pokémon was introduced and its original audience consisted of the “’90s kids.”
Now, people from all generations have the opportunity to “Catch ’em all!”
–Andrea Torres contributed to this report.