The age of COVID-19, social distancing, and mask-wearing, in which we find ourselves today, feels peculiar to say the least. Ever since that fateful day in March when it seemed like the whole world froze, life has felt more than strange. But put this aside and let me take you back to a much simpler time. It’s the summer of 2016. You’re binging “Stranger Things,” bumping Drake’s album “Views” and playing the popular new app “Pokémon Go.” For those unaware, Pokémon Go is a mobile app released by the company Niantic Labs in 2016. It combined augmented reality with an interactive, real world map to create a one-of-akind Pokémon-catching experience for those already in love with the Pokémon franchise, as well as those new to it. It ruled everyone’s lives for a few months, reviving childhood nostalgia for the Pokémon games and giving the franchise a fresh face. However, the popularity of the game didn’t last forever, as it seemed to vanish into thin air. But since quarantine began and COVID had everyone at home with nothing to do, Pokémon Go is having itself a renaissance.
It might be due to the utter boredom many are experiencing, the need to find a way to get out of the house, or nostalgia, but Pokémon Go has forced itself back into many of our lives. Especially on campus, people have redownloaded the app and revived their addiction to throwing virtual poke balls at imaginary creatures. At Ursinus, we have seen countless different usernames on campus and there’s always players fighting for a gym or taking part in a raid (where multiple players join to catch a higher-level Pokémon), showing that there’s an impressive community of players on campus. This is a real positive, as the game provides so many benefits to not only our physical health but mental health as well. Need a break from homework or just from laying around the house? Put a mask and shoes on and go for a walk around campus looking for Pikachus and Zigzagoons. You’ll burn some calories and maybe even level up. Stressed out about an upcoming essay or have something going on where you need to decompress for an hour? Catch yourself a couple of Rattatas! Nothing helps stress more than a relaxing stroll on the hunt for Pokémon. This game enables us to take a break from the stressfulness of our day-to-day lives, taking us back to simpler times when life seemed to just make sense. It turns going for a boring old walk into something completely different, trying to find yourself a cool Pokémon to catch or a gym to battle in. Most importantly, it makes a stressful day into a better one. I mean, who can possibly have a bad day after evolving their Magikarp into a Gyarados?
Now more than ever people need a lighthearted game like Pokémon Go in their lives. With mental health seemingly at the forefront of discussion in our society, being talked about more than it ever has, we need any positive outlet we can find. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 3 million cases of clinical depression in the United States every year. While it may just seem like a silly game for kids and young adults, games like Pokémon Go can often bring joy to people’s lives. Aside from the actual fun that it provides, it allows people to make connections with other players of the game. Pokémon Go is a game that’s perfect to play with other people. You can all walk around campus playing the game together and getting to know each other. Now, I’m not saying
that Pokémon Go is going to cure your depression or your anxiety, but sometimes you have to start somewhere. Walking around and throwing poke balls at mythical creatures on your phone is pretty fun. And hey, you might just make a few friends in the process.