PARIS FRANKLIN; Culture Editor; email@example.com
We’ve all seen them: packs of people wandering around staring into their phone screens late at night. All of a sudden, one of them stops dead in their tracks and yells, “THERE’S AN EEVEE RIGHT HERE!” Before you know it, the whole group is squealing as they each try to catch the fictional creature that has popped up on their screen.
This wasn’t always the world we lived in, but lately, it seems everyone is playing Pokémon Go. The game has recently taken off on campus and in the surrounding area.
In fact, there is a thriving Facebook group that caters to the Pokémon trainers of Pacific Lutheran University. What started as group of 20 friends morphed into 80 in less than a week. Now, the group boasts nearly 230 members who play Pokémon Go on and around campus.
The group administrator is senior business major Andrew Lodell, who created the group just two hours after the Pokémon Go app launched in July. His goal was to keep in contact with other players, organize events and meet new people, and the Facebook group’s success has achieved just that.
“The first week was crazy. We were all going out and we had no free time at all because we were driving everywhere. I met probably 10 different people that I still keep in contact with about Pokémon Go,” Lodell said. “The communal aspect and the social aspect is just huge.”
While members are mostly PLU students, the group is open to players from the surrounding community, coming from as far as Lakewood and Gig Harbor.
“When it was initially released, there were no Pokémon on campus — it was a dead zone — and we thought that was weird. It was the beginning of August when they changed the spawns and now we have them on campus. Now we get a steady spawn of Jigglypuffs and Rattatas and Spearows, all the basic ones,” Lodell said.
As far as how the hype has continued, Lodell has seen a slowing of activity now that school has started up again. “It’s definitely not as big of a thing as it was in summertime — again, that is when people have the most time — but we still just participate in the community,” Lodell said.
In the summer, Lodell reports that there were crowds of people using the main campus Pokémon gym, found at the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, every single night.
While it is great to have a campus that is open to the public, Lodell also recognizes the problems with non-students coming onto campus in order to play.
Lodell does, however, report that even the smokers of his newfound Pokémon Go friends abide by PLU’s policies. “Surprisingly, [an unnamed alumnus] was really respectful of PLU. He does smoke, and he never does on campus because he knows that we have a no smoking policy and he wants to respect that as much as possible.”
The former student even stops others from breaking school policies while playing Pokémon Go on campus. “Whenever he sees anyone from Pokémon Go coming out and smoking, he always calls them on it. I really respect that because you would never expect it from someone who doesn’t even go here in the first place,” Lodell added.
This new trend creates more work for Campus Safety; with more non-students on campus, there is more potential for suspicious activity on campus.
In particular, The Keck Observatory was a Pokémon Gym this summer. Director of Campus Safety Greg Premo commented on the influx of leftover garbage and a number of parking problems.
“We had a few parking problems with visitors parking in front of the iron gate and then climbing over.” said Premo.
Premo went through the process of requesting removal of the gym in the observatory, but he was unsure if something was ever done to resolve the issue.
For those who are interested in starting Pokémon Go, Lodell offers the following advice: “Be open, have an open mind. If you’re out with friends you will meet new people; it’s a guarantee. If you’re not comfortable with that, just be friendly. You might make a new friend. I’ve definitely made a few.”
89 different Pokémon
Strongest Pokémon (without powering up) is over 1700
Reached level 24 in one month
Facebook Page: “Pokémon GO PLU”