Students remember Pokemon Go on its one-year anniversary

Students remember Pokemon Go on its one-year anniversary

Students remember Pokemon Go on its one-year anniversary
July 19
15:31 2017

If you were to walk around downtown Denton on any given week night about a year ago, you would have seen hundreds of college students walking around with their phones, in search of Pokemon. Now the streets are mostly empty, and the game feels virtually nonexistent.

What happened to the iconic Pokemon Go?

“Pokemon Go was more of a great way to justify and instill the main message and image of Pokemon – which is to bring people together and to make the world a better place through kindness and fun,” public relations senior Ryan Tatum said.

Tatum is the community manager of popular YouTube channel, TheNationalDex, or The Dex, with a following of nearly 300,000 subscribers.

He runs the account’s social media and creates a safe environment for viewers by monitoring comments and forums.

With a widely listened to Pokemon podcast, the channel’s main focus is Pokemon and everything that falls under it.

“[Pokemon Go] exploded in a great way, and The Dex followed the game,” Tatum said.

Pokemon Go was created by a developing group known as Niantic and was released on July 6, 2016. While it isn’t as hot as it was a year ago, there are still a large amount of active players.

The game is accessed through mobile app and is considered one of many augmented reality games, or ARG, which creates an environment for gamers that includes a real-life aspect to it.

“It really felt like everyone was a part of something,” Tatum said. “I wish it would come back.”

Tatum said he remembers local businesses around Denton opening their doors and advertising as “PokeStops” or having “rare Pokemon” inside.

“People talked about it on the radio, it was everywhere – I had never seen anything explode like that,” Tatum said.

Niantic initially started out with about 15 to 30 people on staff when Pokemon Go was launched.

“They were just a little app developer who were able to get a partnership with Nintendo, and it just exploded,” Tatum said. “It’s insane how successful it was for them.”

Pokemon Go was the most downloaded app in 2016, and grossed over $1 billion. However, the app fell short within months.

Tatum said he thinks the lack of timely responses to glitches got the best of them.

“Niantic was not updating the game in a way that could keep up with the traction it was getting,” Tatum said.

Although Niantic may someday have the ability to make a comeback with the game, it must market to the people they originally lost.

That doesn’t stop students from looking back on the once addicting app. A year later, UNT students still reflect on their favorite memories of Pokemon Go — ranging from favorite catches to favorite stops.

“When it first came out, me and my friends basically spent eight hours straight walking through graveyards and downtown — all over the place,” computer science senior Ethan Vinante said.

Vinante is the president of the UNT Gaming and Esports group, UNT’s largest gaming chapter. He tailors and hosts events for various types of games and Esports.

The UNT chapter is based under Tespa, a nationally recognized organization created to bring collegiate gaming to college campuses. With over 250 members, the chapter is recognized among gamers.

While the chapter focuses on a variety of games, Pokemon Go had a special place in many of the members’ hearts. Vinante is a big fan of Pokemon partly because he grew up with the show.

“Obviously, we have a lot of Pokemon fans and our generation is one that grew up with Pokemon,” Vinante said. “The age was just right. [Pokemon Go launched] that time perfectly.”

For hospitality management senior Sydney Murray, Pokemon Go wasn’t as much about the gaming aspect, but more so the childhood connections.

“When it initially came out, it was more about nostalgia [than anything],” Murray said.

Murray said as a kid, she remembers seeing Pokemon everywhere.

“Whether you played the [card] game or knew how to play, or watched the show, everyone knew what it was,” Murray said.

Even without prior experience playing Pokemon before, Murray said she still joined in the fun with Pokemon Go.

While many Denton residents grew up with Pokemon cards, games, movies and toys, Pokemon Go brought a new sense of appreciation to this once two-dimensional game. Instead of flipping cards over while battling friends’ Pokemon in living rooms, Pokemon Go allowed people to relive their childhoods and strive towards their ultimate goal — to be the very best.

“It got a lot of people outside, and even though a lot of people complained about everyone being on their phones, it was really communal,” Murray said. “You would go to the Square, you’d go anywhere, and everyone was playing it. It was just an easy way to meet people.”

Featured Image: The once popular Pokemon Go, created by the company Niantic, has lost popularity after grossing over $1 billion. Sasha Calamaco

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Nina Quatrino

Nina Quatrino

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