Children of the ‘90s dreamed about wanting to be the very best like no one ever was just like Ash Ketchum. The thought of catching a real life Pokemon has been the fascination of fans of the franchise ever since the first set of games came out in 1998. Rumors of an app to make that dream a reality debuted in April 2015 and filled longtime fans with anticipation to finally be able to become a Pokemon master. July of 2016, Niantic and The Pokemon Company officially released the app Pokemon Go for Android and iOS users across the U.S.
The hype spread as millions of people, longtime fans or otherwise, downloaded the app so they could be a Pokemon trainer in the real world instead of sitting with their DS in their hands and sitting for five hours straight catching and training Pokemon in a virtual world. Pokemon Go allows people to get out and exercise, making them walk in order to catch Pokemon and level up.
“I played the Pokemon games when I was younger,” freshman Susan Gillet said. “And I even have a box full of cards that I used play with my brother, but it kind of died off when I got older. When the game came out, we brought the cards out again and started playing like we used to when we were younger.”
Many players of Pokemon Go used to either play the video games, collect the cards, or both when they were younger. Not only teenagers, but even teachers and staff around the school participate as well.
“I have been into Pokemon since it came out. art teacher Samantha Bennett said. “I remember recording the very first episodes on VHS tapes. I collected the cards, played the video games, and just did all of the Pokemon things. My engagement ring was even shaped like a Pokeball.”
Not everyone that plays Pokemon Go was a fan at first, as some people just started playing because either a friend or family member made it seem cool and got them hooked.
“I don’t really watch Pokemon, but my son does,” assistant principal Chantel Hluchan said. “I started playing Pokemon Go because both my husband and son played. I started playing because it’s the only thing I can beat them in.”
With so many Pokemon there’s bound to be one that people have a soft spot for due to their distinct traits and differing personalities. Things such as water type Pokemon like Squirtle, or grass type Pokemon like Bulbasaur, or even bug type Pokemon like Caterpie.
“Cubone is my favorite because he has a really cool and sad story,” Hluchan said. “The skull he wears and the bone he carries belonged to his deceased mother.”
A favorite Pokemon can also be chosen because of personal or superficial reasons as well, as it’s not just about the types.
“My favorite Pokemon is Bulbasaur, because I’ve always thought it was cute that it was this fat little toad,” Bennett said. “In German it’s name is Bisasam, and my first name is Sam, so I’ve always thought ‘Yay he’s named after me’.”
There are a lot of very neat aspects to the game itself, making it enjoyable for almost everyone.
“I love the fact that players can get around an area and learn the history of that area, while playing a game at the same time,” Bennett said. “I was teaching in this small town of Crockett and I learned more about that town in the two months while playing Pokemon Go than in the two years I lived there.”
While discovering historical sites and monuments around the area, the probability of meeting new players while walking around is high.
“I’ve met a couple people while playing,” Gillet said. “We just talked for awhile and then continued playing.”
People are getting outside and becoming active while playing Pokemon Go. With so many people playing, businesses and local areas started seeing an increase in sales.
“I’ve seen people playing in Downtown Bryan when they have First Friday,” Bennett said. “And then I went to the anime convention San-Japan in San Antonio, and there were thousands of people playing it at once and it was ridiculous.”
Despite the increase in customers, some businesses find the influx of people to be bad for business, as some people only go for the Pokemon and leave without buying anything.
“I think that businesses giving incentives for Pokemon Go players are bringing more people together,” Hluchan said, “but I know that some businesses consider the extra people a nuisance and I can understand their point of view.”
Not only is the game bringing people together, it’s also bringing families together through friendly competition. Many families play together and often compete with one another.
“When I went to my first First Friday, there was a family wearing Team Mystic t-shirts walking around,” Bennet said. “They had little, tiny kids and they had tablets, Kindles, and phones and they were all playing together. It was a beautiful sight.”
“My family has become closer,” Hluchan said. “We walk parks together and drive around looking for Pokemon and PokeStops which we didn’t do before.”
With people now having an incentive to leave the house, Pokemon Go has brought people out and made them more active in order to find Pokemon and hit PokeStops, which are usually stops in which people can get Pokeballs to catch Pokemon, Pokemon Eggs, and other items that help people in Pokemon gym battles.
“I know it has made us more active,” Hluchan said. “I’m a walker, but I have never really gotten my kids and husband to exercise with me. Now they are much more likely to go with me.”
Parks and open public spaces are popular with Pokemon Go players, since there are plenty of PokeStops to hit and Pokemon to catch.
“I’ve seen a lot in local parks,” Hluchan said. “When my husband plays softball, my son and I walk Veteran’s Park and we are always visiting with other players, discussing new Pokemon we have caught and what levels we are on.”
There are many cool aspects of the game, like being able to catch Pokemon everywhere and anywhere and being able to walk in order to hatch Pokemon eggs. With a recent update, there was an option to have a Buddy Pokemon that players can walk with by their side to obtain candy to either strengthen or evolve their Pokemon.
“One part that I really like is when you get the candies and you get to evolve your Pokemon,” Gillet said. “Sometimes I don’t know what it’s going to evolve into so it’s kind of a surprise.”
With school being back in session and players becoming bored of seeing the same Pokemon over and over again, the amount of people playing has been decreasing.
“I think once we get some Generation 2 Pokemon the game will pick back up,” Bennett said. “Since school has started it’s kind of died down a bit because everyone’s so busy, but when we get some Gen 2 Pokemon in– which is rumored to be near the end of the year we’ll have some more popularity.”