It all started on Thursday morning. First for Apple users, and hours later, the matching Android app was released. After hearing about the beta version for months -- we all seemed to know someone who was a beta tester, but weren’t one ourselves -- the game was finally ready for the general public. Our generation of children raised on Gameboys has become a generation of young adults attached to smartphones; Nintendo and Niantic knew a smartphone app would quickly consume the entire Millennial generation. Sure enough, the App Store and Play Store each had millions of hits within the first two days alone. As soon as we had all downloaded the app, it immediately crashed.
Pokemon GO felt more like Pokemon Stop for the first 24 hours. It was too popular for its own good, and Po'Go users discovered nothing more than an overloaded server. Before we could even access anything other than an error screen, the memes had already begun.
On launch day, I stared at this screen for hours. I closed the app and reopened it. I restarted my entire phone. My colleagues were able to access it, and even caught Cubones during lunch, but I was one of the millions who couldn’t even sign in until later that night, when the servers magically started to work.
If you're one of the few people in America or Australia not playing Pokemon GO right now, this might seem like an exaggeration. It's not. I followed a Pokemon for two miles and wound up in an unfamiliar neighborhood. The Pokemon led me to a private parking lot in a dilapidated residential area, at which point I gave up and headed back to a more familiar part of town, where I knew I could find dozens of Pokestops.
Instead of taking the bus in the most direct route, I definitely wandered all over campus -- and quite a bit away from campus -- catching pokemon on my way to and from work. Sure, I might've had to run to make it on time, but it was worth it for the Horsea I caught half a mile away from the office.
Running through New Haven after dark feels a lot like this. It's dark. It's scary. Pokemon seem to like to lead you as far from campus as possible, to unfamiliar locations. It's all the dangers of video games that require your character to go out late at night, except it's actually you that has to go exploring late at night.
Sometimes you also feel invincible. You are not. Pokemon might normally be a video game, but Pokemon GO is augmented reality. Keyword: reality. Catch 'em all, but pay attention to your surroundings. Pokemon can appear in the middle of the road, but that doesn't mean you need to stand in traffic to catch them.
If young Pokemon Trainers are frequenting churches, police stations, city centers, and local businesses often enough for them to make official statements, maybe that's our sign to respect them. Don't let this game get you in trouble.
I might have sneaked on campus to a courtyard I don't have access to, just so I could try to catch a Tauros (and it got away, too). But I knew I wouldn't actually get in trouble for catching Pokemon here. Don't trespass on private property for the sake of a game. That being said, put on some good sneakers because you're about to get super fit while playing video games.