Imagine a sixth grade girl with gangly limbs and a jungle gym of orthodontic work trapping her teeth. Her Old Navy skinny jeans are purple to match the accent color of her hand-me-down shirt. Her hair is cut into a severe bob and her square, blue glasses slide down her nose. Walking down the sidewalk, …
Campus Confessions: I’m Still Catching Them All in Pokemon Go
Imagine a sixth grade girl with gangly limbs and a jungle gym of orthodontic work trapping her teeth. Her Old Navy skinny jeans are purple to match the accent color of her hand-me-down shirt. Her hair is cut into a severe bob and her square, blue glasses slide down her nose.
Walking down the sidewalk, her feet drag slightly against the pavement in beige Merrell shoes. Her eyes are glued to a phone too nice to be her own because it isn’t — it’s her dad’s. Her fingers move in odd motions across the screen.
This was me in the summer of 2016, dutifully walking my Pokemon Go character so I could “catch them all.”
I had never seen the “Pokemon” television series nor had I ever played the card game. I only knew of the Pokemon Swablu because I had once stolen the card from a boy during recess in elementary school. Yet, despite my lack of fundamental knowledge, I found myself enamored with the game.
And I still am.
The game, developed by Niantic, connects to the health app on users’ phones to track the amount of kilometers players walk each day. These steps are counted to hatch Pokemon eggs, collect candies from buddy Pokemon — used to evolve it to a higher form — and earn prizes.
Players are motivated to take these walks because different Pokemon will appear to them in different locations. Players also need to move in order to be in the vicinity of Gyms and Pokestops, which are connected to real life edifices.
Gyms act as rings for Pokemon battles against other local players and Pokestops offer valuable items for players to use in their adventures.
On journeys to Loyola’s Crown Center — the longest walk on campus from my Francis Hall home — I whip out my phone to watch my character pass through the West Quad and encounter many a Snubbull.
I send in-game gifts to fellow Pokemon Go friends who now live states away. I receive Pokestop postcards from the University of Michigan and Ohio State University.
However, I forget this game is no longer popular. Its peak of 232 million users in 2016 dropped to 71 million users in 2021, according to Business of Apps.
Other users are now scarce, so when another player joins me in battle during a less-than-inspiring lecture, I scour the crowd around me, looking for any sign of a fellow Pokemon trainer. I have yet to find them.
My friends are more ruthless than others in mocking my continued playing of this now unpopular game. I receive scoffs and laughter when I bemoan my loss of a perfectly good Snorlax, high in combat power (CP).
Clearly they don’t understand the joy of catching them all. I pity their inferior dreams.
I just brush off the teasing. I’m too busy discussing my next assignment with taskmaster and Pokemon mentor Professor Willow anyway.
The Professor now tells me I need to collect 10 steel-type Pokemon in order to obtain 2,000 experience to help me level up. That’s no big deal for a level 32 trainer like me.
In fact, if a Pokemon isn’t above 600 CP, I won’t keep it. That’s how much of a boss I am.
That was a lie. In truth I feel a profound attachment to all of my Pokemon and struggle to transfer them to the Professor for candies. I feel like a child keeping all my stuffed animals on the bed for fear of hurting the toys’ feelings.
However, I will admit that my Dragonite is my pride and joy. Evolved first from a Dratini and then a Dragonair, I’ve spent over 125 candies on this Pokemon.
I became a Pokemon Scrooge as I greedily stock-piled candies. I was gluttonous in the tallying of the singular candies I received for every five kilometers walked with the Dratini.
Walks to class were no longer “how late can I leave my dorm and still make it to class on time,” but rather, “what’s the longest possible route so I can gather more candies.”
My Dragonite isn’t as impressive as others’ top CP Pokemon, but I love him all the same. He’s my top pick for all Gym battles and I feed him the finest power-up berries. His time is spent alternating between the Gym at the Loyola Red Line Station and the Gym attached to the “Welcome to Rogers Park” sign.
I show him off to all those who see me play the game. They give me not-so-subtle eyerolls in return.
I pretend not to see these eyerolls and mourn the days when Pokemon Go was a socially acceptable game to play — now a dream from seven years ago.
But have no fear, for I have no intention of stopping my gameplay, no matter what naysayers may fuss about. I will “catch them all,” as the show’s theme song demands.
I don’t understand why this game has declined in popularity. Wouldn’t TikTok’s viral “Hot Girl Walk” be more fun when you can catch the adorable Pikachu while you exercise? But I digress.
I may not be as accomplished as other Pokemon Go players, but I am no less passionate — and that’s what matters.
Featured image by Catherine Meyer | The Phoenix