LOGAN – The Pokémon Go craze that has been sweeping the nation didn’t skip Cache Valley.
Every day hundreds of participants can be spotted around Logan, a high concentration of those can be found on USU’s campus or downtown.
The game, which is played using a cell phone, encourages players to get outside and walk around town to “catch” fictional cartoon creatures known as Pokémon. The game uses GPS to track the player, who must go to the location of the Pokémon and then catch it by throwing a “Pokeball” in the creature’s direction.
It is a concept known as “augmented reality” where the virtual world and the real world mix. In the old Pokémon games, players used a controller to move around a world created by developers. Now buildings on campus have turned into “Pokestops” and historical locations have turned into Pokémon “gyms.”
Austin Moody from Kentucky and Tyler Dahl from Montana are both USU students, and both have been playing since the game launched last week. The two were looking for looking for a rare Rhydon Pokémon behind the LDS Institute building Tuesday afternoon. There were about a dozen other participants in the area at the time, but Moody said sometimes a lot more will gather.
“Here at night there are 200-plus,” he said.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Pokemon breeding, one of our lesser-known ag programs. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/usuaggielife?src=hash”>#usuaggielife</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PokemonGO?src=hash”>#PokemonGO</a> <a href=”https://t.co/mDHkNB5zBi”>pic.twitter.com/mDHkNB5zBi</a>
— USUAggies (@USUAggies) <a href=”https://twitter.com/USUAggies/status/752647261725741056″>July 11, 2016</a></blockquote>
Dahl said just about everybody he knows is getting into it. Nintendo has created more than 700 Pokémon creatures for previous games, but Pokémon Go features the 151 Pokémon that most fans his age grew up with.
“It’s targeting our age group,” Dahl said. “It’s the generation of Pokémon we grew up with. It’s not the new ones.”
The goal for many players is to catch all of them. Some are rarer than others, while others – like the flying-type Pidgey Pokémon – pop up just about everywhere. Moody said in order to catch water-based Pokémon you have to go near bodies of water.
“I went to First Dam this morning,” Moody said. “I got a Poliwag.”
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” xml:lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>.<a href=”https://twitter.com/USUSigEp”>@USUSigEp</a> look who I found hangin out outside the old house. Look how sad he is. I feel ya little dude. <a href=”https://t.co/iyekakz0vH”>pic.twitter.com/iyekakz0vH</a>
— Brian Isom (@BrianIsom) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BrianIsom/status/751134744914432001″>July 7, 2016</a></blockquote>
Once a player has gained enough experience, he or she can join one of three teams, which use their Pokémon to fight for control of “gyms” around town. Certain historical buildings on campus or downtown are designated as gyms.
“If you take over a gym you’ll leave a Pokémon there,” Dahl said. “And then your team can leave more Pokémon and make it harder for other teams.”
Brent Scheppman was another searching for Pokémon on campus Tuesday afternoon. He said the nostalgia he feels from the older generation of games is great, but he also enjoys meeting and interacting with other players.
“Even if it is in passing it is nice to just be out socializing with people from many different backgrounds,” he said. “I think that’s a great thing.”