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Something about Pikachu

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(image: Nintendo)

Pokémon GO has arguably taken over the planet: within a month of its July 6 release, there were over 100 million downloads ­ and that was only on the Google Play market. There are over 20 million daily active users, making Pokémon GO the most used downloaded app after Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. A new money­making venture has sprouted around the game, with “Pokémon GO Drivers” charging players up to $30 an hour to drive them around while they play the game, hitting up Pokestops and attempting to catch ‘em all.  That’s an extreme example, of course: for the most part, people play the game because of a sense of childhood nostalgia and as a bonding experience with friends. I sat down for an interview with one such individual: Adam Ernst (@PoliRekt), a JMU student who founded the Facebook page Pokémon Go Valor Hour JMU, a page that seeks to bring JMU Pokémon GO players together.

DISCLAIMER: I know absolutely nothing about Pokémon GO, or Pokémon in general. I do not play the game; I do not watch the show. I know that Pikachu’s important, Team Rocket is ridiculous, Ash wears a cool hat, and that’s about it.

J: So what’s the idea behind the page?
A: I wanted a place for people who play the game and enjoy it to come together to help each other out.  I wanted to make something we can all enjoy.

J: How did you get into Pokémon GO?
A: Childhood nostalgia got me started, liking it as a game got me to stay. I like it as a game and I’m exercising more ­ a few miles at a time isn’t much but it’s more than I would do otherwise.

J: What’s your favorite part about playing the game? What are some of your favorite Pokémon memories?
A: My favorite part is getting to enjoy it with my friends. Pokémon in general is how I made some of my first friends in elementary and middle school. I’m still friends with some of those people and we all play Pokémon GO together.

J: Have you made any new friends through playing Pokémon GO? A: I’ll run into people walking around downtown. You can usually tell when other people are playing, just from people watching. I’ve made a few friends that way.

J: Has anything extreme happened to you when playing, good or bad? A: Nothing momentous ­ I just low­key enjoy walking around catching Pokémon.

J: What’s your favorite Pokémon, and what’s the rarest Pokémon you’ve caught? A: Haunter is my favorite. He’s a mischievous little trickster who messes with people. Relatively harmless, but still spooky. Hitmonchan is probably the rarest one I’ve caught.

J: What’s the best thing that’s happened to you through the page? A: We had a fun event a little while ago ­ not a lot of people came, but the ones who did really had a lot of fun.  It was cool to spend time with friends and when it gets bigger, it’ll be cool to spend time with random people who enjoy playing the game as much as I do, other people from different circles.

J: What’s a typical Poéemon GO session look like for you? A: I’ll go out with my roommates; we’ll walk through campus to downtown and then walk back. We’ll try to take over any gyms we see and if we see any really good Pokemon we’ll go out of our way to try to catch them.

J: How do you hope the game ­ and your page ­ will be different in the future? A: I hope it’ll get bigger!  I hope it’ll grow, obviously. I hope it turns into something that gets lots of people together. I wanna see a massive crowd all playing together because of the page; that’s what I want to get out of it.

Love Pokémon GO? Come out to our event, Pokémon GO DUKES Saturday, September 24, 7-9p on Festival Lawn!

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Article written by Jen Pawlowski, Special Events hospitality chair

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