Students at Memorial University are doing their best to catch them all.
Pokemon GO, an augmented-reality game created by Niantic Inc. and based off the original Nintendo franchise, has taken the local gaming community by storm. It has gotten many hardcore gamers out of their homes and to try to be the very best Pokemon trainers they can.
Craig Ryan is the vice president for the Sandbox Gaming student society, a not-for profit organization based out of St. John’s that focuses on gaming for charity, building a gaming community, and removing the barriers that surround gamers.
Ryan says that the game has brought in a lot of new people to the Pokemon community. They have responded to this worldwide phenomenon with two Pokemon GO related events this past summer, one of which was sponsored by OzFM and one independently planned and operated by the group at MUN.
“It’s a very easy distraction,” said Ryan.
“Once I saw what the game was doing with people; getting them outside, meeting new people, and seeing their city, It became a bit more apparent that this game is fantastic.”
Not all smooth sailing for users
While the games has gotten a lot of traction with the public, it has some flaws. These problems include the inconsistent GPS tracker, trespassing, battery consumption, and hacking.
Ryan says that you can’t expect to play the game for more than a couple of hours without a battery pack. While he recognizes that trespassing is a serious problem, it is likely to happen regardless of who plays the game.
One of the more major problems that has gotten a lot of controversy is Geospoofing, which is when participants actively throw their GPS signal to another location, such as Corner Brook or as far as Japan.
Geo spoofers and the usage of third party tracking maps are forms of cheating in the game which breaks the rules and violations of the game which can get your Pokemon GO account banned. Ryan said that these actions are unnecessary, especially for players in this province.
“There’s no real need,” he said.
GO phenomenon slowing down
While many active members of the gaming community continue to play on, the phenomenon of Pokemon GO has since slowed down for members of the casual gaming community.
Bloomberg News reports that the game has since lost 15 million players throughout the month of August after a 45 million player peak in mid-July. Ryan however remains optimistic saying that the popularity of the game should pick up again when certain outstanding tech issues are fixed and the weather improves.
“It’s going to be an interesting experiment on our side as an organization to try and keep Pokemon GO events going,” said Ryan.
For those who are still actively playing, or even casually playing, Pokemon GO groups are able to be located on Facebook under the team names (Mystic, Instinct, & Valor) and also “Pokemon GO Newfoundland”.