UCLA students have transformed from pupils to Pokemon trainers while searching for Pikachus and Charizards around UCLA’s new virtual Pokestops.
Released July 6, the “Pokemon Go” app by Nintendo and Niantic has gained millions of players, earning them over $1 million per day just on iOS. After almost a month of playing, many UCLA students continue to use the app to collect Pokemon and have found their favorite places on and off campus to play.
On campus, “Pokemon Go” has set up Pokemon gyms, specific locations for battling other players’ Pokemon, and Pokestops, places to grab items for catching and maintaining the health of Pokemon, both on the Hill and by classrooms. De Neve Evergreen boasts a Pokemon gym while the Sigma Chi fraternity house hosts another gym across the street. Other popular Pokestops include one at the Bruin Bear outside of Ackerman Union and at Pauley Pavilion.
Rising second-year economics and political science student Richard Gaynor said he also has noticed the app’s continued popularity in the sculpture gardens behind Bunche Hall. Students sit among the statues with special items from Pokestops like incense and lures activated, which draw Pokemon to their location, Gaynor said.
UCLA students have also found Pokemon off campus in both Westwood and the greater Los Angeles area. When rising fourth-year cognitive science student Cristian Ramos was Ubering to Santa Monica, a Ninetales appeared in the middle of the road. After stopping the car, Ramos whipped out his phone and launched his “Pokemon Go” app, capturing the Pokemon, he said.
Additionally, off-campus Pokemon hunting offers more Pokestop locations; student players can stop at popular venues to stock up on Potions, Revives and Poke Balls, Ramos said. In Westwood, “Pokemon Go” has set up Pokestops at the Regency Village Theater, the Bruin Theater, Sepi’s bar, the Spanish Fountain and the street across from In-N-Out.
Ramos, who leisurely plays “Pokemon Go,” said he appreciates the UCLA Pokemon community surrounding the app that has since grown following the app’s launch. Although the crowds of people have died down since its initial launch, he said the app has continued to garner popularity among players. Students are continuing to meet other students as they walk around trying to catch the same Pokemon, Ramos said.
“It’s still really popular because people are out there trying to capture all 151 Pokemon,” Ramos said. “It’s the collection aspect, … everyone wants to go out and collect all the Pokemon, but it’s not so easy.”
UCLA computer science lecturer Diana Ford said another reason the app remains popular is because of the history of Pokemon itself. Before becoming an app, Pokemon already boasted millions of fans across the world.
“It’s proven itself,” Ford said. “It has a spot in history, whereas (other apps) – not quite yet.”
Augmented reality is still a very exploratory field, Ford said, so the app has a lot of room to grow and innovate.
Although rising fourth-year English student Evan Pavell said the app has maintained popularity at UCLA since it first came out, he predicts the popularity of “Pokemon Go” will likely decline in about two months.
He cited the lack of variety of gameplay – tapping on Pokemon and flicking Poke Balls – and the resource investment necessary to play the game – time, energy and gasoline if the player wants to drive somewhere – as reasons the app may soon lose the interest of the masses.
“It’s not much of a game at all; there are very few ludic game elements to it,” Pavell said. “Basically, it’s Snapchat that doesn’t use facial recognition software to put a graphic on your face.”
Rising second-year undeclared physical sciences student Jonathan Tse said casual players and those who did not grow up with Pokemon will stop playing, but older fans still provide enough of a base audience for “Pokemon Go” to thrive for many years. As a result, the app is not just a fad and has a strong enough following to outlast the initial hype, Tse said.
“I think it’s an ingenious way to revamp the franchise because they’ve done the same thing for many years,” Tse said. “There is a strong competitive aspect to playing Pokemon and this app is like a dream come true.”