Edmonds Community College student Lia Andrews’ face lit up with a smile as she caught a rare Pokémon outside of the campus library.
Andrews wasn’t alone. Richelle Thompson caught a wild Butterfree, too, and held out her phone to show a group of students in the courtyard.
Since the launch of Nintendo’s augmented reality game Pokémon Go on July 6, Edmonds CC students and employees, and community members have been spotted using the free cellphone app to explore the campus and catch virtual creatures, called Pokémon.
“It’s really fun to go out and see people playing the same thing,” Andrews said. “It creates instant solidarity.”
Center for Student Engagement and Leadership Summer Events Coordinator Andrew Prom organized a campus meetup on July 27.
“A lot of people are playing it – college students, young people, old people – everyone is playing it,” Prom said.
“Pokemon is like a game mostly nerds play, but I know friends with social anxiety who would never go out in public to talk to people, but as soon as this game came out, they’ve been all over the place, catching Pokémon, traveling, and talking to people.
“It was really an eye opener, because you’d never think this could get people out and talking.”
Thompson agreed and said the game brings people together and builds a sense of community.
The game uses GPS and cellphone cameras to lead players, or Pokémon trainers, to places where Pokémon could be caught.
Prom said players are led to spots, or PokéStops, on campus that they might not have been to or noticed before. There are about 10 stops on campus and many nearby. The Lynnwood Ice Center and the Elks Lodge are both stops.
Notable stops on campus include: the Veterans Boots to Books and Beyond Memorial, artist Lorna Jordan’s “Reach” sculpture, and even shrubs on campus that attract certain Pokémon.
The campus courtyard serves as a PokéGym, where trainers go to battle their Pokémon against others for control of the site.
Scott Tan gathered in the courtyard with other trainers on July 27. He is taking summer classes online and said the game and the meetup drew him onto campus.
“It’s nice for online students, because it gets you out,” Tan said.
The game has been known to drain cellphone batteries, rendering the phones useless for catching Pokémon, but Tan has a solution.
He started carrying a spare charger and even purchased an extra battery so he could continue to play.
Tan said the game blew up fast, and he would continue to play if Nintendo keeps it interesting by adding new features.
Playing alongside Tan on Wednesday was his friend Choi Jae. Jae lives in on-campus housing and was quickly heading back to his apartment to recharge his phone when it ran out of battery.
While his phone was temporarily dead, Jae said the Pokémon hype “won’t ever die off.”
Want to catch your own Butterfree Pokémon at Edmonds CC? Head to campus at 20000 68th Ave. W, Lynnwood.
And some advice from the college: After you catch’em all, you can refuel with a stop at Triton Espresso in Mukilteo Hall or Mountlake Terrace Hall for Pokémon-themed drinks like a Zapados, Articuno Mocha, Electabuzz Latte, or a Pikachu Italian soda.
— Story and photos courtesy Edmonds Community College