Will We Catch ‘Em All?

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By Melissa Swann:

Pokémon GO shattered download records when the Californian developers Niantic let it loose upon the world. While the craze took much of the world by surprise, the huge mobile hit didn’t happen overnight. The 21 year old Pokémon franchise aside, the first hints of Pokémon GO came way back in 2014 when Google Maps implemented a feature for April Fools Day that allowed you to virtually scour the world to find Pokémon. From there people all over the internet dared to dream (and think up theories), one user even musing on the thought of Nintendo teaming up with Niantic to use the concept and platform of their existing game, Ingress, to create a Pokémon version. And that’s exactly what happened.

Luckily for us, Australia was one of the first countries to start hunting Pokémon, before the UK, Canada, and even Japan. The game dropped just a week or so before the beginning of semester, and despite overloaded servers constantly crashing the game right before you could catch that damn Eevee, every campus was still full of budding Pokémon Trainers battling out the gyms and trying to find something other than another Rattata.

Some campuses are a little more fortunate than others when it comes to PokéStops: the few at Kingswood campus are nothing compared to the sea of PokéStops over at Parramatta South – but I digress. For the first few weeks on campus it was all too easy to spot someone playing the game. A group of people huddled outside the library? All intently staring at their phones? Gym battle. Determinedly stalking around campus? Changing direction every now and then? Definitely trying to track down that pesky Poliwag. You might have even spotted Ash Ketchum wandering around Penrith campus during Clubs Week.

We’re about half way through the semester now and things seem to have dwindled. You could guess it’s because students have their heads down in their studies, just too dedicated to chase down a Growlithe on the other side of campus. But perhaps the hype has died down due to the game not really advancing all that much. For one, tracking Pokémon has become virtually impossible these days. With the in-game feature broken (and then removed entirely!) and all third party tracking sites shut down, regardless of whether or not you thing they count as ‘cheating’, the game doesn’t really do what we expect it to.

Never mind the fact that leveling up gets ridiculously grueling around level 20, or that hatching eggs is really only worth your time if you’re spending real money on those sweet, sweet Pokécoins to buy extra incubators. And don’t get me started on these region exclusive Pokémon! I can only get a Farfetch’d in Asia? Are you kidding me? With no trading feature confirmed (but coming “eventually” says Niantic CEO John Hanke…) it seems that the game as it stands now, not all that different from release, just hasn’t been enough to keep the hype going long enough to for us to bother to Catch ‘Em All.

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