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‘Pokémon Go’ Community Day

Joseph Messier // TimeOut Editor

When hearing the words “Pokémon Go,” I’m sure that most people go, “People still play that game?” Well, let me tell you, yes, yes, they do. And honestly, it’s way more people than you would think.
“Pokémon Go” (“PoGo”) was first released in July of 2016. This highly-anticipated game was an immediate hit, almost too much so. Niantic, the developer, was not prepared for the sheer number of people who wanted to play the game. Server crashes were common, which turned many people off from the game, understandably. To quote @PokemonGoTech, there was at one point “47,302,242 people trying to log in world wide” all at once. No one can prepare for a game to be that popular.
Because of the glitches and the server downtime, the game died greatly in popularity despite Niantic’s best efforts. Eventually the servers were stabilized, feature updates began to roll out and more Pokémon were added, but the players didn’t come back. Once you lose trust in a game, it’s hard to gain it back.
However, Niantic keeps plugging along. There are regular small events instead of large sporadic ones, and communication between the developer and the players is now more straightforward and regular. People are coming back, but it is nowhere near the original droves.
One of the most recent events, Community Day, is a global event that happens once a month. For three hours, a special pokémon spawns way more than usual in local parks. The chosen pokémon has a much higher chance to be “shiny” (a usually extremely rare form of the pokémon), will know a special move it wouldn’t normally have and there are also extra in-game buffs, like double experience points.
The first “PoGo” Community Day was Jan. 20, 2018, and the featured pokémon was its mascot, pikachu. This month’s Community Day was Feb. 24 and featured dratini. Because it is the biggest and most convenient local park, most people went to the South Carolina Botanical Garden to participate.
One thing that surprised me the most about “PoGo” in Clemson was that there is a thriving, yet almost completely hidden, community here. Many people walk around looking at their phones anyway, so it’s hard to tell who’s playing the game. It took over a year before I found out about the community, and even then, it was because someone saw me playing and invited me.
The Clemson group is over 200 people strong, consisting of students, locals and even a couple of professors (which was really surprising to me). These people are dedicated and somehow manage to be everywhere on campus at once. Because there is no form of in-game chat, the main form of communication is through the Facebook Messenger app. They are the ones that organized the gathering in the Botanical Gardens and even sponsored an event for who could catch the most dratinis.
The total turnout for both Community Days was much more than just the people who are local players. There were probably 800+ people in the area last Saturday, based on just the number of cars and amount of traffic. I encourage you to be a part of the biggest hidden club on campus. You won’t regret meeting some of the nicest people around.

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