Over the summer, parks were filled to the brim with trainers young and old, all gathered together for a common cause – catching Pokémon.

The hype, like many passing trends, died out after a few months but has since been revitalized with Niantic’s release of the second generation of monsters from the “Pokémon Gold” and “Pokémon Silver” versions of the original games into the wilds of “Pokémon Go.” 

Couple that with the divisive political climate we are currently trudging our way through, there’s no sense of unity anymore. I can recall the droves of people flocking to hot spots like Red Bank Battlefield and to parks everywhere to catch Pokémon, all with a sense of purpose and community that has been lost since the app’s decline.

Friendships were made and bonds were formed between players as well as the three teams that dominated the game’s playing field – and while rivalries between them became intense, the player base was fine with the friendly competition.

I originally reported on the decline of “Pokémon Go’s” usage at Rowan University both from my own observations and those of students attending school here, but with its recent update I’ve found a renewed sense of hope for the mobile app.

Reluctantly redownloading the app I haven’t touched since September, I found the game added a surplus of updates. Daily catching bonuses, daily PokeStop bonuses and a revamped tracking system to boot made things look a little less bleak for the mobile game.

My first catch was Chinchou, a small, electric angler fish type creature. After catching him I found myself overwhelmed with a feeling I haven’t felt in months – bliss.

In both “Go” and in the handheld games, catching a new Pokémon was always an exciting feat. It conjured up feelings of discovery and adventure, something that Pokémon has prided itself on for the past 20 years. While Chinchou may not be the newest monster to grace the Pokédex, its new face among the other 80 Pokémon added to the game is a welcomed sight, bringing back those age-old feelings that we all know and love as Pokémon trainers.

With the semester in full swing I haven’t had the chance to get out and catch some more, but hopefully visiting the park near my home and Red Bank Battlefield will yield some more results. That being said, things are looking up.

Reflecting on “Go” now, I yearn for the days when people were hostile towards each other because of their team affiliation in the game, not because of political differences.

I realize that a simple mobile game certainly won’t cause a massive shift in ideologies or policy, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Pokémon Go united all of us with one goal – to catch them all, and this sense of community and friendship is something we all need most right now.

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