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Pokemon Go captures ND students

| Thursday, September 1, 2016

20160829, 20160829, Chris Collins, Picture of Brian Pulawski, Pokemon GoCHRIS COLLINS | The Observer

For those born during the 1990s, the word “monster” might not have conjured images of a malevolent creature lurking in the closet or under the bed. Rather, it might have described a much more pleasant part of childhood: Pokemon. This summer, Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game, allowed those who loved Pokemon as kids to reconnect with their childhood and introduced a new generation to the game.

Notre Dame students staying on campus over the summer were no exception.

Seniors Debbie Greif and Julia Tombari first saw the trailer for Pokemon Go when it debuted in September 2015.

Tombari said the game was supposed to be released in February but was pushed back. 

“That was disappointing,” Greif said. “And then we thought it was going to be May.”

It wasn’t. It was mid-June before the game was demoed at the E3 trade conference, with a tentative mid-July release date. Pokemon Go instead came out in early July.

“I heard about it within 20 minutes,” Greif said. 

Players earn points and level up in Pokemon Go by collecting Pokemon and supplies. Once the player reaches Level 5, they can join one of three teams: Team Mystic, Team Instinct or Team Valor. The teams battle to dominate gyms, which are landmarks where players can go to battle others with their Pokemon.

There are several Pokemon gyms on campus, including Main Circle, “Touchdown Jesus” and Alumni Stadium.

Tombari and Greif plan on starting a club this year to allow students to connect with other players, both from their own teams and rival ones.

“Debbie and I, over stir-fry bar, discussed the possibility — jokingly — of making a club out of this game when it came out eventually,” Tombari said. “Six months later when it actually came out, we decided to talk about the idea again, and since then, we established a Facebook page that has roughly 280 members.”

Tombari and Greif said they are seeking official club status with the University.

“We’d have a lot of events, like the group just going out to catch Pokemon, going to parks and stuff where there are rare Pokemon available,” Greif said. “We want to have team activities.” 

Senior Brittany Dymm, another of the 100 million players who downloaded the app, said she appreciates the competitiveness that comes with the game.

“I like doing it because I like going for walks, and it’s a funny way to be goal-oriented when you walk,” she said. “I’m also really into Fitbit challenges, so I pair myself up with that and go for a walk, try to hatch an egg. Other than that, there’s a competitive aspect to it with the gyms. You can see who’s on top of the gyms. You can see who is kind of winning at that moment.”

Tombari said the games help players connect with others.

“I think it definitely helps create relationships, especially for people who may not be as extroverted,” Tombari said. “The game is a way for people to come together over something they all nerded out about a while ago.”

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