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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

weekend

Gotta catch 'em all

It's a quarter past 11 on a Monday night.

Normally, by this hour, I have become one with the couch. I’m watching reruns of "BoJack Horseman" on Netflix and drinking wine, winding down after the one day of the week that — to borrow a BoJackian phrase — feels like a long, hard kick in the urethra.

But not tonight.

Tonight, I'm in downtown Bloomington, just south of the square. I’m gathered with about 20 others, sitting on the sidewalk, at a spot insignificant other than the fact it happens to be encircled by three Poke Stops.

Yup, you guessed it.

I’m 21 years old, a soon-to-be college senior, and I’m out on a Monday night playing "Pokemon Go."

But I suppose that’s not so strange. Not anymore. 

Within a week of its release July 6, the gaming app had already grossed more downloads than Tinder and more daily active users than Twitter. It was tweeted about 15.3 million times, 3.6 million more times than Brexit was tweeted about within the first week of its “debut.”

Now, with two weeks and hundreds of PokeBalls under our belts, we have turned "Pokemon Go" into a lifestyle. And I’m here to offer myself up as a case study to this worldwide phenomenon.

First off, you should know I fall into what you might call Nintendo’s “target demographic.” I live two blocks away from a college campus, riddled - by my conservative estimate - with a quadrillion Poke Stops; I’m one of those inane individuals who enjoys running for fun; and my primary means of transportation is to walk. Everywhere.

And when it comes to "Pokemon Go," those things are important, perhaps even more so than the childhood nostalgia the game is designed to profit on. 

Downloading the augmented reality game and picking a starter Pokemon isn’t enough. The trick to being the “very best” "Pokemon Go" trainer is to constantly be moving. And that (not so humblebrag) is where I happen to excel.

Here’s how a recent conversation between myself and a co-worker went.

Me: “Is that 'Pokemon Go' you’re playing? What level are you?” 

Co-worker: “Yeah it’s great! I’m level seven! You?” 

Me: “20.” 

Co-worker: “... Yeah I’m not that into it.”

I know what you’re thinking. I’m crazy. And you’re probably right. On Saturday, I was awarded a badge for catching 500 Pokemon. I repeat, that was Saturday.

But the truth is, anything that gives me excuse to get off the couch and explore, I’m all in. Now, that excuse just happens to be catching enough Dratini to evolve into a Dragonite. I quickly tire after a few rounds of Rocket League or Super Smash Bros, but I can spend an entire afternoon searching for Squirtle.

And if a rare Pokemon is spotted in the area — watch out. I have been known to go gallivanting into the night chasing wild Vileplume and Exeggutor. 

I also once chased a baby deer five blocks in hopes of taking a picture of it, so that isn’t necessarily atypical behavior.

Since downloading "Pokemon Go," I’ve visited Poke Stops across the greater Bloomington area. I’ve been to Griffy Lake, Brown County State Park and Nashville, Indiana. 

I’ve waited at lures surrounding Showalter Fountain, the Arboretum and Sample Gates. I’ve even sat on the patio at Kilroys on Kirkwood, sipping long islands and flicking Poke Balls at passing Pidgey.

These are all places I would visit occasionally or even regularly, but "Pokemon Go" provides an added incentive to go out into the world on a Monday night and catch ‘em all, instead of staying in to Netflix and watch ‘em all. And that — for all the game’s flaws — is refreshing.

Maybe "Pokemon Go" is just the next fad to burn out and fade away. Maybe it will be no more ecumenical than Silly Bandz or Selfie Sticks. But users are already averaging 43 minutes of play a day, and the app is still in its inchoate stages.

Back at the square, a mother pushes her toddler around in a stroller. A Pokemon flashes onto the screen of her smart phone, and the toddler correctly identifies it as “Horsea!”

Meanwhile, I’ve caught a Pinsir, a Tauros and enough Doduo to evolve an army of Dodrio. My boyfriend suggests we start heading home, but it’s difficult to pry ourselves away. New, rare Pokemon keep obstructing our exit.

Just as we’re about to escape the range of the lure, a wild Charmander appears. The crowd - and it’s important to be politically correct here - loses its collective shit.

After I’ve caught my Charmander, I finally drive off. Back home, I celebrate with "BoJack" and a glass of wine.

vziege@indiana.edu | @ToriZiege

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