What Happened When I Tried Mastering Pokemon Go at Binghamton University

Posted by Paige Miller on July 14, 2016

Pokémon Go is all anyone is talking about! I wanted to see what all the hype was about, so I went on a Pokémon hunting expedition across campus. After playing with this interactive technology all day, it's easy to see why everyone is so hooked on the game. Here was my experience as a first-time player, and some things I learned along the way.

Let's get started

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For those of you who don't know, Pokémon Go is an app that places "real" Pokémon in your actual location using your phone's GPS and camera. Before I got started, I got to pick a Pokémon to add to my Pokédex. I chose a Charmander but later found out that if you run away from the first three options the game provides, you can have a Pikachu! After I chose my first Pokémon, I headed out the doors of the Couper Administration Building and began trying to catch 'em all!

What are all of these blue things?

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Now, it was time to start hunting! Before I did that, though, I needed some Pokéballs. To get Pokéballs, you have to find Pokéstops, which are significant structures on campus. Pokéstops are not always what you think they are, however, so go to new places and be adventurous! For example, of course there was one at the Peace Quad rock, but there was also one outside of Bartle Library, on a bench. Who would have thought? 

Master the throw

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I ran into my first Pokémon, a Drowzee, outside of the MarketPlace. I didn't know what I was doing, so I just threw my Pokéball and hoped for the best. It worked, but after throwing over 10 Pokéballs at an Abra outside of Newing, I learned the throw requires some serious skill. When you press and hold the Pokémon you want to capture, a ring appears around it, and you want to throw the ball directly into that ring. Hold your phone still, and wait for the ring to get really tiny and there's no way you'll miss! 

Catch as many as you can

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I wanted to catch some new, rare Pokémon, but it seemed like I kept running into the same three. At one point, I questioned whether or not it was worth my time to stop and capture them. Turns out, it is. If you see repeat Pokémon, capture them, because you need Pokémon, new or old, to level up. Also, the more you capture, the more stardust and candy you earn, which can be used to evolve your Pokémon. 

Time to hit the gym

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I kept seeing these elaborate-looking towers on the map, so I finally clicked on one to see what it was. Professor Willow was there to tell me that these are gyms, which you can only access once you reach level 5. Once you level up, you can take your Pokémon to the gym and battle. 

I took the sidewalk less traveled

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At first, I was taking the usual campus route, following the normal walkways. Then, I got adventurous and started going into buildings and walking around more obscure places on campus. Not only did this make the game more fun, but I started catching Pokémon other than the Pidgey. 

A tale of trying to cheat the egg

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I ran into another Pokéstop, and this time I grabbed more then just a Pokéball. I got my first egg! So, what's inside? Well, to figure that out, you just have to keep walking. I found out it is very hard to cheat the egg system because the GPS on your phone tells it when to break based on how much you have walked. This means, going on a treadmill or taping your phone to a spinning fan won't work. 

Masters unite

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As I was walking around, I saw a lot of other faculty and students fumbling with their phones. I could only assume they were playing Pokémon Go (since that is what everyone seems to be doing), so I approached one of them in hopes of gathering some insight on the game. Orrin Kenyon is a level 17 Pokémon Go master. He told me I should start playing the game in a group, because the more populated an area is, the more Pokémon will show up. Also, you can track Pokémon and win gyms more easily if you use a little help from your friends.

Lures, lures everywhere

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I kept seeing these Pokéstops on my map with flower petals floating arond them, and decided to check it out. These are called Lures. When a Lure is activated, an abundance of Pokémon come to the area for the next half hour -- and anyone can catch them! 

Campus hotspots

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The point of Pokémon Go is to get out and explore for yourself, but I will cheat a little bit for you. The path from the spine to the Student Wing has been known to have a lot of rare and unusual Pokémon, but you didn't hear it from me!

Pokémon Go addiction is real

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Pokémon Go is a great experience -- it's all about exercise, socialization, and exploration! -- but you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times while playing. Keep your head up and take a break whenever you're crossing traffic. Oh, and it goes without saying that you should never play while driving. I also suggest going out with a group. Not only is it safer, but you'll have more fun with your friends!

Paige Miller is a junior majoring in public relations and business administration from Binghamton, N.Y. 

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