‘Pokémon Go’, the augmented reality-based mobile game has become the latest fad in college campuses in the city.
Part of the popular ‘Pokémon’ franchise, the game employs a global positioning system and requires players to walk around in the real world in search of virtual creatures called Pokémon. The peculiar mix of the virtual and real world — which allows players to relive their childhood — has become an instant hit among the city’s college students within days of its global launch.
While the game is yet to be launched in India, it hasn’t deterred students from downloading it from unauthorised websites.
Muqsit Jalal, a first-year diploma engineering student from Kalyan, spends several hours a day playing the game. Armed with their smartphones, his friends and he roam the city on their motorcycles and sometimes on foot. Their aim: to collect as many Pokémon as they can.
Pokémon Go mania has reached the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) as well.
“Many of us who didn’t like to go out are now roaming on the campus. The game gives us a feeling of nostalgia,” said Nikhil Allamsetti, a final-year BTech student at the institute.
The obsession with Pokémon Go has spawned a phenomenon larger than the game.
At Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Matunga, the senior students organised a Pokémon Go-themed treasure hunt to engage first-year students. WhatsApp groups dedicated to the game have been created and walk-alongs are being staged to find elusive Pokémon. A city college student created a YouTube channel, on which he posts game tutorials.
However, the frenzy has also elicited security concerns, with Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe asking the state government to issue directions, considering the safety of students.
“One of my friends was travelling to college by train. When the train stopped before it reached the station, his mobile projected a Pokémon on the tracks. He immediately climbed down to capture it,” said Khizar Khan, a student at Don Bosco Institute of Technology, Kurla.
The addictive game has become a major distraction for students. Jalal said one of his friends even skips lectures to play it. “Many students have started playing the game during lectures and even looking for Pokémon in classrooms. As soon as the college breaks for lunch, they gather at a designated ‘Pokémon hub’ to play, often skipping lunch in their excitement,” added Khan.