Pokémon has been a popular game since 1996, so when game developers at Niantic and The Pokémon Company released an app that allowed users to go out and look for virtual Pokémon themselves, people were ecstatic.
The popularity of the app Pokémon Go has been rising ever since its release in July 2016. With the new feature of connecting with friends in the app, more and more people are playing and teaming up with friends to go out and catch Pokémon. So when St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) senior Carl Freeman and freshman Sofia Mulinazzi put their heads together earlier this year, they came up with the idea to form a club around the popular game.
Club founder Carl Freeman started the club “To bring people together to play the game and it formed a good community with like minded people.” The people in the club meet up for community days and raids (which is what happens when a very powerful legendary Pokémon spawns at one of the gyms and five or more players attempt to capture it.) and even for regular walks around campus to try and capture legendary and non-legendary Pokémon. It’s possible you may have even seen groups of players walking around campus.
With the new addition of connecting with friends added just last year, the game has helped build up the community of Pokémon players. President Mulinazzi stated, “The best part about Pokémon Go club is that everyone can play. Our members range from freshman to seniors, PS to pot smokers, and hardcore fans to casual players. Everyone is welcome. We actually have about 70 players!” This is the reason most students have joined. Freshman Timothy Pulik said, “I saw the table at Involvement Fair and I thought ‘Hey this might be a good way to do something I enjoy and a good way to meet people on campus.’”
However, Pokémon Go Club is not like most other clubs on this campus. What sets it apart is that there is no set time or place for meeting. This is due to the fact that most raids appear at random. How do the Pokémon Go club members get around this? Discourse of course! With this lack of set meeting times, you’d expect things would be rather disorganized, but Pokémon Go Club is rather well put together and efficient. According to Pulik “It’s easiest to drop a notification in the group chat, since we all have different schedules.”
In addition to this, the club has been gaining success when in-game as well. The club has many raids and legendary Pokémon under their belts from Moltres to Mewtwo. For the gaming community, these raids and captures of legendary Pokémon should be considered a great achievement.
But what most members consider to be the best aspect of the club is the sense of community and friendship that they find. Pulik decided to join the club because “Of the community. We’ve got a lot of great people and Pokémon Go is a community based game. Having a lot of people really allows you to get the most out of the Pokémon Go experience.” Freeman created the club because he wanted to make something for students to enjoy and find community. As a senior, Freeman thought “The younger students actually signed the paperwork and made it a reality, which is poetic because it shows their commitment to make stuff happen, even though I’ll be gone.”
When asked about his hopes for the club, Freeman said, “What I see for the club is for them to keep it going and keep getting new members.” Mulinazzi had similar thoughts when asked about her hopes for the club. “I would love to see the club outlive Pokémon Go. We have a solid group of players who don’t intend on stopping any time soon, but in the event that they become disinterested, I’d love for the club to be inclusive of all Pokémon themed games and it’s be cool to have the club be for every Pokémon player no matter the game.”