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‘Pokémon Go’: Entertainment or Menace?

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It may be over 100 degrees under the blistering sun during the late afternoon, but crowds of hunters will be out trying to find a Pokémon to brag about to the rest of their friends. While some of the huddles vanished when wind speeds intensified and rain fell from above, some still huddled under their backpacks because they were in an intense duel.

Instead of going out to the clubs, finding a hot date on a Saturday night or spending the night in with Netflix and a tub of ice cream, countless ‘Pokémon Go’players flood the front of the UTEP Library in hopes of boosting their level, checking in at the different PokeStops or battling against others in the “Gym,” an environment where you can battle other Pokémon teams.

The multitudes of Pokemon players all have one goal in mind—to catch ‘em all.
‘Pokémon Go’ is an app that is based on the Pokemon series, which started more than 20 years ago. In the ‘90s, Pokémon made its debut on the Nintendo Game Boy, and ‘Pokémon Go’ has evolved the classic game into a whole new realm of gameplay.

In the new spinoff of the classic videogame, users seize virtual reality monsters called Pokémon and use them as the premise of the game. When a Pokémon is captured by the gamer, the gamer can then care for it, evolve it, release it for extra points, or battle with it against other gamers’ Pokémon. Along with the playing process, the user’s character can level up after a certain number of points, gain badges for achievements and collect more Pokémon.

Now, instead of the usual hurried walk students usually have to get to their destination, people all around campus are attentively walking and occasionally stopping to catch a Pokémon. In fact, senior criminal justice major Juan Calvo enjoys not seeing the typical student, who would walk around without caring about anyone else.

“I’ve seen this many people on campus, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed them without headphones on or trying to avoid everyone,” Calvo said. “It makes UTEP feel a lot friendlier around campus. Before, you would walk around campus seeing everyone with headphones on trying to look down—it was kind of cold.”

In just a week since its launch, the app increased Nintendo’s stock market value by approximately $14 billion. According to the Huffington Post, the estimated amount of money the app makes in a single day can range up to $1.6 million, and the average person uses it 33.4 minutes a day—which is higher than Facebook (22 minutes) and Snapchat (18 minutes).

Although the game is booming as of late and rests atop the charts in the app store, junior political science major Nicole Mata believes that the Pokémon craze is just a fad that will die out soon enough.

“The app will surely live for a short period, just as everything else does within the millennial generation,” Mata said. “A new thing will come along and will distract from the game until it’s just a memory brought up at next year’s award shows.”

The free app, available on all major devices, does require the user to actually venture outside their house to capture Pokémon. These creatures are most commonly found in bigger congregation places, such as a big park, the Don Haskins Center, a community place such as San Jacinto Plaza or a well-known area such as UTEP. For Calvo, the best spot on campus for the UTEP Pokémon community is the library.

“Definitely the library is the best because you can stay in one spot and capture four lures or PokeStops,” Calvo said. “It’s easy. I would be more avid on gyms if I had more friends who played with me. I take over all the gyms on campus, but within five minutes, someone has taken it from me. The gyms are the best because I get the chance to knock someone out. Someone spent the time to get it, but I just took it from him or her. That’s my favorite team.”

Although he is usually in class all day for the Law School Preparatory Institute, Calvo still finds time to play the game that he has loved ever since he was a kid. Calvo has captured over 3,000 Pokémon and is on level 17.

“I play every day,” Calvo said. “I usually come during class. I get to play usually five hours a day. I grew up playing Pokémon. I learned to read by playing Pokémon back in 1995.”
While Calvo cannot take his eyes off the game, Mata believes there are far too many dangers associated with playing it.

For one, in the terms and conditions of the game, the app requires the user to sign in through their Gmail accounts, which may frighten individuals about their privacy issues. Also, Mata points out that gamers are mindlessly glued to their phones without a care for their surroundings.

“People are going to extremes to complete all these missions and levels, but are unaware of the danger they are placing themselves in,” Mata said. “Recently, I read an article about a girl who walked into traffic because she had to go catch the rare creature. The young lady blamed the game, but all could clearly see who was to blame.

The question of is the player taking the game too far is not even a question; rather, the question is when is it enough? What casualty or issue needs to occur before something is said about the danger that accompanies this game?”
Mata has experienced some of these dangers firsthand.

“The issue that happened at my house was that there was a man outside at about seven in the evening, and he was attempting to come in through my window, so we called the police, and when they arrived they had asked if any of my siblings and I played ‘Pokémon Go,’” Mata said. “They told us to delete it because people use it as a tracking device for people.”

In the game, throughout the city, there are different stops where gamers can collect different items, such as PokeBalls used to capture Pokémon, potions to heal an injured Pokémon who has been in a battle, and wild berries that lure rare Pokémon to the gamer. However, Mata says that these PokeStops pose a threat and can lead to worrisome happenings.

“Those who have become completely enthralled by the game have gone to extreme lengths to capture a rare Pokémon,” Mata said. “The dangers that this game possesses is that many are unconsciously going into dark areas alone at night to find these coveted game pieces, but they are unaware that predators know that these areas are secluded or also know which people to target.”

Aside from the great monetary aspect that the app has generated or the dangers that the app could have, Calvo believes that the game has a societal impact that overrides all the other arguments.

“I think ‘Pokémon Go’ is helpful to the community,” Calvo said. “You see people walking around, and you see friendly people too. People will just be standing around. The other day, I went around looking with people looking for a Jolteon earlier —it helps make friends.
The app plans to release new updates within the month and improve on the first version. Rumors of new Pokémon added, more items and fewer server errors are floating around the next update.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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‘Pokémon Go’: Entertainment or Menace?