By Ethan Brogan
Familiar name? It is the latest wrinkle of a wildly popular game that emerged from Japan in the 1990s, sparking “Pokemania” then. Since the updated, free-to-play, augmented-reality mobile game was released in selected countries on July 6, it has achieved “craze” status, The Wall Street Journal reported July 11. The phenomenon has boosted game-developer Nintendo’s stock value by $9 billion in a week.
And it drew more than 90 players to IUP’s campus in the wee hours of Sunday morning on the game’s debut weekend.
Among the scores of players roaming the Oak Grove, among other spots, was Ethan A. Isenberg, 25, of Homer City.
“We walked ‘til 3 a.m.,” Isenberg recounted in a July 11 interview at the Hadley Union Building. “It’s been awesome.”
The game uses GPS systems on smartphones to track player movements in the real world and to direct participants to Pokémon, or virtual creatures. The game has been compared to geocaching.
Virtual “stops” in campus play include the Hadley Union Building, Heritage Garden, Wilson Hall and other landmarks.
Ryan D. Popovich, 16, an Indiana High School student, was gaming with friends at IUP on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s good exercise, and a way to meet people,” Popovich said in an interview in the Oak Grove.
However, players mobbing game spots with eyes glued to handheld devices pose real-world risks. Several IUP participants reported players walking into poles or other people.
“The problem is, people don’t pay attention,” said Isenberg.
Ethan C. Brogan, a senior majoring in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is from Pittsburgh.