After the craze: Pokemon Go struggles to maintain public interest in recent weeks

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Joseph Kim | Contributing Photographer

A pokemon appears in front of Gibson Hall. The app integrates the virtual with the real world environment to create an immersive experience.

Tyler Mead, Senior Staff Reporter

Pokemon Red and Blue jumpstarted the imaginations of any kid lucky enough to own a Game Boy in the mid ’90s. Since then, children could only dream of the day where our virtual friends became real, and we could wander the streets collecting our own pocket monsters.

That day finally came 20 years later in July 2016 with Pokemon Go, and it turns out 20 years of waiting leads to about a month and a half of genuine interest. Yes, the app took the world by storm, and according to Nerdist.com, was more searched than pornography by July 14. Even with more power than porn, it seems to be fading into the backgrounds of our lives.

“I was playing all the time, every day,” junior Carson Discher said. “When I was walking to and from classes, because I was taking summer classes, I was always playing. Pretty much always headed out to get all the Pokestops, catch whatever Pokemon I can, and then I stopped playing for most of August, and now I’m back to playing, and it’s about a little bit each day, but not as much as I used to.”

Discher’s experience seems fairly typical of Tulane students. When the game was released on July 6, students and uptown residents poured out of their houses at all hours of the day. Campus Pokestops became social gatherings of dozens when a lure went down, Audubon Park filled up with players and team Valor would often sweep through campus at 3 a.m. to take every gym in their path—only to be reclaimed the next morning by team Mystic.

On a Sunday afternoon, a lure placed on the Amistad Research Center Pokestop failed to attract even a single player to the location, while during summer these lures could draw massive crowds. Unfortunately buggy servers, a brutally slow leveling system and the return to school could be the nails in the app developers’ coffin.

“I don’t think we’ve seen a huge drop in Pokemon Go players recently,” Victoria VerHagen, director of marketing and brand management for Dat Dog, said. “With any new app or trend, you see a spike in users [and/or] players in the first month or so, and eventually people stop using or playing as time goes on, but I think Pokemon Go is here to stay. Especially as the app will continue to add new features and fix problems players are experiencing.”

VerHagen offers a voice of reason and hope for the future. Players need to understand the initial excitement over the app wasn’t sustainable. People were able to stick out the days of constant server crashes and Pokemon that never seemed to get any closer, so if fans’ love of the series can get them through that, perhaps a more refined version of the game could bring a revitalization in the near future.

“Trainer versus trainer battling, like people to people, real people not just catching Pokemon maybe actually battling wild Pokemon,” Discher said in regards to updates he could foresee. “Another would be trading Pokemon, trading items and actual trainer interaction.”

The franchise includes six, soon to be seven with the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon in November, generations of Pokemon to collect, ranging from sentient trash bags to a literal god. Adding the newer creatures would not only likely create a spike in player usage, but also add accessibility to younger fans whose first game might be a more recent incarnation.

“Dat Dog on Freret Street’s Pokemon Go Lure Special is a free [Pabst Blue Ribbon] (for those who are 21 and up) or homemade soda for customers who have purchased food with us and drop a lure at our Pokestop,” VerHagen said. “Caroline Kain, the general manager at the Freret Street location, wanted to create an incentive for customers who drop a lure because lures benefit everyone playing the game, and we love having people spending time with their friends playing Pokemon Go at our restaurant.”

Dat Dog’s initiative to welcome players is another way to reinvigorate users. With other restaurants offering deals and themed bar crawls, there’s clearly room to incorporate the game into everyday life.

Pokemon Go did accomplish an impressive feat. It brought Pokemon into the real world through our phones, and brought back a piece of many Tulane students’ childhood.

Even with the frustrations and noticeable change in usage of the app, Pokemon Go still possesses a powerful nostalgia mixed with the realization of nerdy children’s dreams. It’s unclear whether the game exists as nothing more than a summer fad yet, but so long as the developers strive to be the very best like no one ever was, to catch Pokemon can still be our real quest.

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