BYU students and Utah residents are trying to “be the very best like no one ever was” with the new “Pokemon Go” app.
“Pokemon Go” is a new smartphone augmented reality game that encourages users to walk outside and catch Pokemon. The game is based off of Nintendo’s Pokemon franchise, which has been around for 20 years.
The game play layers into the physical world, which make Pokemon appear on your phone camera as if it were in real life. Unlike most smartphone games, “Pokemon Go” requires users to be walking and moving around in order to catch Pokemon.
Users can only catch Pokemon with Pokeballs and unless users buy in-app content, the only way they can obtain more is by visiting Pokestops. (Pokestops are landmarks such as signs, parks, and even church buildings and LDS temples that refill Pokeballs for users.)
This has given BYU students and Utah residents the opportunity to go out and meet people through a common app. Provo resident Jason Galloway was one of the people gathered on BYU campus on Saturday trying to catch rare Pokemon.
The app gained popularity because a lot of people who don’t play Pokemon associate the app with their childhood, while others will play any Pokemon game that comes out. According to Google Trends, Hawaii and Utah are the top states searching for “Pokemon Go” in the last week.
“”The people who have no interest in (playing) Pokemon suddenly take an interest in it,”
Galloway said. “That’s what happens when you have a game that millions of people love on a common device that is free.”
Families are also into “Pokemon Go.” Domo employee Paul Navasard from Orem drove to BYU campus with his family to catch the Pokemon on campus. “I go to BYU because my neighborhood does not have any Pokemon,” he said.
Navasard’s children use his phone and his wife’s phone to catch Pokemon.
“I’m trying to catch more Pokemon so that I can take over the gym at Domo,” he said.
The gym Navasard is talking about happens to be the blue rooster at his work.
Pokemon gyms are places where users go to battle with their Pokemon. The winner becomes the leader until someone else takes his or her place. Some LDS temples such as Rexburg, Salt Lake, Provo City Center and Brigham City have become gyms for users to compete in.
Users do not need to enter inside a building in order to use a Pokestop, gym, or to catch Pokemon. “Pokemon Go” users only need to be within a few feet of the PokeStop.
“Last night we almost caught a Machamp (outside) the Salt Lake City temple,” Navasard said.
Nathan Adams, a music education major at BYU thinks that “Pokemon Go” is different from other Pokemon games and video games, especially with the outdoor perspective. On Friday night, a group of over 100 people gathered at the Provo Library to play “Pokemon Go.”
“Everyone just felt instantly welcome and everyone was friendly. It’s not like an exclusive group, it’s everyone playing Pokemon,” Adams said.
Adams likes how “Pokemon Go” encourages users to work as a team in order to meet a common goal of catching all of the Pokemon and becoming powerful trainers.
“Every five minutes, drivers will yell ‘Go Pokemon,’ or ‘Gotta catch em all,’ instead of calling us nerds, they cheered us on! This is a positive thing that builds unity, especially after all of the depressing news from this week.”