MTSU Students GO nuts over Pokemon GO

A mix of students and visitors gather outside the James E. Walker Library to play Pokemon GO. (MTSU Sidelines / Tanner Dedmon

Photo by Tanner Dedmon, Managing Editor

More than 15 million people have caught Pokemon GO fever, and students at MTSU are no exception. Students and other residents of Murfreesboro can be found roaming campus each day and night since the game’s release, searching far and wide for new pocket monsters. Some players are seasoned veterans of the Pokemon franchise, having played some of the earlier games in their youth such as Pokemon Diamond whilst some have never played any of the handheld games before, and some have yet to download the popular app.

If you aren’t even a little familiar with the franchise, you’ve probably been living under a rock-type Pokemon for the last 20 years. For those less acquainted with Pokemon GO and the larger series, the craze began with the release of Red and Green Versions by Nintendo in 1996. The games set off a chain reaction that subsequently produced movies, toys and a trading card game. The hype surrounding Pikachu and friends hasn’t slowed down since.

Pokemon GO is a mobile game primarily for smartphones. The game uses GPS tracking, designed by San Francisco-based software company Niantic, to track the players’ whereabouts. By physically visiting various landmarks called Pokestops, the player can restock items, including Poke Balls to catch new creatures and Potions to heal their monsters after a battle. Battles occur at gyms, which are often housed by significant buildings or churches. Players may choose to join one of three teams and equip a Pokemon to one of their team’s gyms to defend it from the other two.

Pokestops on MTSU’s campus include many of the buildings, the lucky blue horseshoe in Walnut Grove and the infamous cursed seal in front of the James E. Walker library. The area in front of the library is a popular hangout spot for mobile Pokemon trainers, as there are four Pokestops in the immediate vicinity. These Pokestops are almost always equipped with lures, items that can be activated in order to draw more wild Pokemon to the location. Players are often rewarded with eggs, which require the player to travel a certain physical distance before hatching into a new monster. Thus, the campus is also popular for its size. MTSU provides ample walking opportunities from one Pokestop to another, allowing trainers to stock up on items, catch new Pokemon and finally witness their eggs hatch.

Pokemon gyms on campus include the Honors College, the Uranidrome and the Reese Smith Jr. Baseball Field. The ownership of said gyms seemingly shifts from Team Valor to Team Mystic to Team Instinct and back again about every hour. The app operates unlike the conventional handheld Pokemon games, and the truly competitive nature of gym battles is likely because nobody seems to understand exactly how every feature in the game works yet. A lot of the fun occurs when a friend explains a new theory they’ve heard about how to find the rare Pokemon that you want. At this point, everybody is probably downloading ispoofer so they can spoof their location and catch the rare Pokemon before any of their friends.

It is unclear whether or not the excitement surrounding the game will last into the beginning of the fall semester. As much fun as the game can be, players are begging for new features with each update. Many wish to see a trading system incorporated into the app, so players can swap Pokemon with another. Others wish to see the classic battle system, as opposed to the rapid and muddled tap-based game play. Only time will tell if we see these changes or if Mr. Mime will ever make an appearance.

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