(Yes. This joke has been made before. In my defense, Elaine P.’19 came up with it within hours of the game coming out, due to its effect on the clam-hole residents, so it’s kinda relevant.)
If you’ve been on the internet or listened to the news or basically been anywhere besides under a rock for the past week or so, you should be aware that Google baby Niantic Inc., in partnership with The Pokémon Company, released Pokémon Go recently. Built on the still-not-cold-in-the-ground framework of Niantic’s other game, Ingress, Pokémon Go is an “augmented reality” game that forces players to go outside (most of the time) to collect Pokéballs, catch Pokémon, and claim gyms
for the glory of Team Instinct.
Within the first hour of the game being introduced in clam-motherfucking-hole kitchen, true-bred Randomites, known for occasionally complaining that our building’s proximity of one block from Shaw’s was too much, were wandering outside together to face the open sky for what may have been the first time since our move from Random Hall in order to chase Pokémon.
(I myself went out three times that night with various groups to chase Pokémon outlines, and only finally stopped because my phone battery had died.)
It’s actually a bit amazing how far people will go for a little nostalgia. Granted, every little kid I knew back in the day was just waiting for the day when they could run outside and catch Pokémon, myself included, but no justification could have prepared me for the reality of running outside at 1am in the morning, feet bare against the unyielding cobblestone, crossing empty streets with my phone out and two other people, going further along the Charles River than I have since last summer, chasing what later turned out to be a Goldeen.
Sure, the server was incredibly unstable at launch, losing Shi Ke X.’16 a Scyther and spawning, for me at least, invisible Pidgeys when it wasn’t returning the dreaded “Our servers are down” notice, but for a group of individuals almost defined by our penchant for raging at even the smallest bit of lag in League, we were surprisingly forgiving of Niantic’s server-side shenanigans for the first few days following the US launch.
(Then again, this was the same group of individuals willing to play League on South American servers entirely in Spanish when MIT’s IS&T accidentally borked our access to North American League, so maybe, despite all our complaining, we’re just desperate for our vices.)
A few hours after parts of clam-hole started reaching level 5 and choosing Team Instinct, the MIT Pokémon League declared that it would also be going Yellow, departing from the local region’s current monopoly by Red (Microsoft?) and Blue (Kendall Square Google, plus Boston University).
Deciding that I probably wouldn’t participate in the turf wars much anyways, I picked Yellow for the ease of access to the newly-claimed Team Instinct gym by the corner of Burton-Connor.
A few days later, despite telling myself I wasn’t obsessed with Pokémon Go, I found myself regularly camping outside the Stratton Student Center by the Alchemist gym, taking down Red and Blue gyms for the XP.
(It helped that, since Team Instinct is still comparatively small, most of the time the newly-taken Red and Blue gyms would go up as Red or Blue again, just in time for me to take them down for more XP. Yeah, I’m that mean person who keeps helping people take down the Alchemist gym between the hours of 10am and 5pm, when the hours don’t conflict with desk. ._.)
I don’t keep any pedometer data, but would guess that, since Pokémon Go’s release over a week ago, I’ve gone outside nearly four or five times as much as I usually do. I’ve used up ~500% more sunscreen, walked up and down dorm row ~twenty times more than necessary, visited the ESP office nearly every day, actually attended Summer HSSP despite my initial plan to quit ESP altogether, taken down at least ten hours worth of gyms, etc. The Allied Barton workers are now asking whether I’ve caught anything when I enter the building, and people that I normally barely interact with are finding me for gym runs and defender bonuses.
I still have a lot of other responsibilities this summer, actually, but for now, I think I’m going to run outside and see if the two Growlithes that regularly spawn on Brigges Field are there again. I have to fill out that Silph Road Pokédex somehow.