Two years after the game’s initial release, I finally participated in my first “Pokémon Go” Community Day event, and I finally realize what I’ve been missing for the past year.
It’s no secret that “Pokémon Go” isn’t the trend that it once was upon its release in July of 2016. Despite the lack of local play, Niantic, the creators of the game, have been steadily updating “Pokémon Go” every few weeks, announcing legendary events and community days that encourage walking around local areas, catching Pokémon and meeting new Pokémon trainers. With the much anticipated “Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee” games releasing Friday, Pokémon fans have been jumping back onto the bandwagon, myself included.
Amid the myriad of hard-to-catch legendary Pokémon that have been steadily rolled out since the game’s launch are “Pokémon Go’s” Community Days, which feature a rare Pokémon that spawns at an unnatural rate around population-heavy areas. As last Saturday’s Community Day featured one of my favorite Pokémon, Cyndaquil, I decided to finally try my hand at strolling around Southern Miss’ campus in search of the rare shiny variant of Cyndaquil and its evolutions.
Little did I know that I would be gone from my room for hours, meeting new people, catching up with old friends and obtaining a few particularly rare Pokémon. My mission grew to a quick and surprisingly easy success, and I even achieved something I didn’t realize was possible in my senior year of college: a true appreciation for Southern Miss’ campus.
Being a central part of the Hattiesburg community, Southern Miss serves a hub for the admittedly small city of restaurants and Wal-Marts. Saturday certainly only highlighted this fact as immediately upon leaving my dorm I was greeted by crowds of people staring at their phones, stumbling around attempting not to trip over themselves. It was clear that they were “Pokémon Go” players.
While at first, I was determined to avoid any interaction with others, after about 30 minutes of wandering around campus, a few friends joined me which led to me eventually meeting a few new friends. Soon we all joined into a climactic 40-person Raid Battle before shaking hands and parting ways.
Truly, the beauty of “Pokémon Go” continues to lie in its ability in bringing “Pokémon” fans out of hiding and throwing them into further exploring these locations they’d otherwise slip through on a daily basis. Though I didn’t discover any hidden compartments on campus, I did find a substantial amount of beauty in my everyday life.
Wondering the campus alone on a brisk Saturday morning was a new, alien sort of peace, something I hadn’t done since my freshman year with my then-roommate. Three years later, I’m finally experiencing this hidden, simplistic grace once again right before I’m forced to say my farewell to Southern Miss in pursuit of far greater goals and aspirations.
While “Pokémon Go” certainly will not change the world, it’ll definitely change people’s perspectives on their daily lives, whether it be in their social relationships or immediate surroundings. I’m looking forward to getting out there and meeting new trainers in next month’s Community Day.