Since the release of the Pokémon Go application in July, smartphone holders across the world have ventured into the streets of their towns to find and catch virtual creatures that appear, based on GPS location, on the screen of your phone. The city of Alma is no exception.
The game was first released in North America, Australia, and New Zealand on July 6. The initial response was so unexpectedly huge that it caused many technical difficulties concerning the servers and forced Niantic, the company in charge of Pokémon Go’s development, was forced to postpone the game’s further release to other countries. By August, this augmented reality smartphone game had nearly taken over the world.
As with all news, the app was received with mixed opinions. During its first few weeks of development it was widely criticized for its frequent server crashes and glitches. Overall though, it’s safe to say that players of Pokémon Go absolutely love the game.
Playing Pokémon Go allows a smartphone holder to travel around their city searching for fictional creatures, Pokémon, that appear based on terrain information and their phone’s location services. Prominent landmarks in the town may be geotagged, or electronically located, as Pokéstops, where players can collect Pokéballs – used to catch more Pokémon – and other handy items. Important buildings are often marked as gyms, where players fight on behalf of one of three teams for control over the area.
Upon advancing to level five, the player can visit a gym and choose a team, each represented by a color: Team Mystic, blue; Team Valor, red; and Team Instinct, yellow. They then can fight for control of gyms and get Pokemon that they have collected appraised, or evaluated, by the team leader.
In Alma, there are a total of seven Pokéstops located along Main Street, as well as several more on Highway 71 and one at the church behind our own Alma High School. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the Alma Performing Arts Center is a Pokémon gym.
As expected, there is a plethora of students who play this game, to which is made easy by the close proximity of the gym and the abundance of Pokémon that appear in the school. Student opinions are pretty black and white; the students who play the game love it, and the students who don’t, well, don’t.
Supporters of Pokémon Go had some very positive feedback. According to Grace Peppas, a junior, “It’s lit.” Several students, including Grace, said they liked that the game got people out of their house and exercising.
Even players of the game had some constructive criticism to put in. “I just think they should make it easier to get more Pokéballs because I’m always out of them,” said Winter Recinos, a freshman. Ginavieve Hunter, sitting beside her, stated that the app wasn’t suited for playing in rural towns like Mulberry because there are no Pokéstops and it is difficult to find Pokémon.
Most negative criticism of the app was that it was pointless or even dangerous, an opinion backed up by the news of accidents or crimes that involved careless players of the app. “I wish (people) wouldn’t play it while (they’re) driving,” said freshman Carlie Westra. Niantic has made some interventions to prevent such dangerous behavior, namely a popup warning that appears in the app when it detects speeds exceeding a walking or running pace.
Overall, the effects of the app are pretty harmless. Even teachers don’t have too much of a problem with it; students aren’t often seen playing it in class, and if they are, they’re not usually being disruptive. It’s just a fun game to play, and even to those who don’t play it, everyone has something to say about it.