The nostalgic aspects of “Pokemon Go” may be why the game has become particularly popular amongst college kids. Facebook groups dedicated to sharing locations of rare Pokemon and Pokestops on campuses have been popping up every day since the game came out.
Founder of the “UNC Charlotte Pokemon Go Club” Facebook page Misty Morin is amongst many students who say the game brings back memories of playing other versions of the game.
“My first game I ever got was Pokemon Ruby and I was obsessed with it,” she said.
UNC junior Rob Haisfield, a level 15 “Pokemon Go” trainer, created a GroupMe dedicated to the game in which trainers in Chapel Hill will share the locations of Pokemon characters that are typically hard to find.
He said he decided to make the group after seeing how willing students playing the game were to help each other collect characters and get to new levels.
“When I was on campus, I had like three or four people on separate occasions be like ‘Are you playing? I’m looking for X Pokemon or Y Pokemon, wanna help me find it?’” Haisfield said. “And we probably come from just the right age group to have just the right amount of nostalgia to really drive it.”
Due to its popularity amongst college-age students, the childhood game is making its way through Chapel Hill nightlife.
Country Fried Duck had a Pokemon-themed trivia night on Monday, and tonight, The Baxter will host its own Pokemon Go theme night.
The Pokemon movie will play in the background as trainers share tips and socialize. Doorman “Chris 13” said the idea for a theme night came after seeing customers play while in the bar.
“It’ll be pretty big,” he said. “Ever since the damn game came out, we’ve had people wandering in on the phones trying to catch the Pokemon.”
But special opportunities to catch rare Pokemon like Mewto and Zaptos aren’t just available for nighttime players.
The Durham Bulls also took advantage of the phenomenon by opening up its ballpark to guests from 11 a.m. to one p.m. on Tuesday. For $5, fans were able to roam the stadium’s outfields, stands and even home plate in hopes of catching all the Pokemon in the ballpark.
Matt Sutor, the team’s director of communications, said over 600 trainers attended the event with many staying there nearly the whole time. The $3000 the event brought in will all be donated to Second Chance Pet Adoptions in Raleigh.
“We were very pleased with the event,” Sutor said. “It was a very good day for us, obviously a very good day for Second Chance to get that donation, and we were very pleased with the results. Fans seemed to have a lot of fun on the field.”
But, there are risks that come with playing the game.
A Wyoming teen came across a dead body by the Big Wind River while searching for a water Pokemon last weekend, and robbers in Missouri used the app’s geolocation feature to find victims near rare Pokemon late at night.
On Tuesday, the Chapel Hill Fire Department released a series of safety tips on its Twitter page, reminding trainers — particularly younger ones — to watch the roads and be cautious of strangers while trying to catch ‘em all.
Despite its risks, “Pokemon Go” is seen as a rewarding game for many, and not just because of its nostalgic feel.
Carolina Outreach Peer Support Specialist Marshal Edwards said he thinks the game can be helpful for anyone facing mental health issues.
Edwards said he believes working with patients on breaking down tasks into simple, achievable goals leads to improvements with multiple mental health issues, and that “Pokemon Go” is a great example of this belief.
“The game does a really good job — even just its visual effects — of rewarding you for achieving goals, and the bright colors of the setting and medals give a slight release of dopamine,” he said.
Edwards also said the game provides two of the best ways to improve mental health: exercise and social interaction.
“It’s one of the first video games that gets you outside your home, which is especially great since the game is really based on community,” he said.
Haisfield said he’s experienced the benefits of “Pokemon Go” Edwards discusses, and believes the quest to “catch ‘em all” has a positive impact on society.
“I just think this app is one of the biggest in augmented reality so far,” Haisfield said.
“Between yesterday and the day before, I walked a total of ten miles and I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Also, the fact it’s become so social has been really interesting — I now know the location of like 20 more murals in Chapel Hill than I did before.”