A game that originated in the 90s is back, and it’s more interactive than ever. Pokemon Go made its debut in the United States only two weeks ago, with hundreds of landmarks and businesses denoted as spots of interest in the game. The North Carolina Research Campus is home to 3 Pokemon gyms and over five of the so-called “Poke Stops.” The NCRC and the surrounding Kannapolis community have already seen the impact of this new mobile app in the form of young adults taking to the outdoors to hunt for Pokemon, despite the summer heat.
Summer interns with the Plant Pathways Elucidation Project (P2EP), a program for aspiring researchers that builds off of the plant science and human health focus of the campus, are especially active with Pokemon Go. They grab the chance to snag Poke Balls and Potions at the Poke Stops right outside the NCRC practically every day before work, during their lunch breaks, and during their free time. In a recent TWC News Charlotte interview, P2EP veteran and current intern Conor Reid spreads the message of the NCRC to anyone watching the news: “This campus is dedicated to promoting human health, that’s what our research is focused on. Here’s this app that’s promoting human health, promoting people to get outside get active and also have some fun while they’re doing it.” Watch the full video here.
The game provides a unique opportunity for players to get up and about to advance to higher levels. As opposed to spending hours on the couch with their eyes glued to the television screen, game fanatics are walking miles each day albeit with their eyes mostly glued to their smart phones, constantly on the lookout for rare Pokemon that might score them experience points.
One of the reasons they are walking is also one of most fascinating aspects of the game- the Pokemon Eggs each user can easily find at a local Poke Stop. Each egg is defined by the two, five, or ten kilometers a player has to walk with the egg in an “incubator” in order to hatch it. Hatching an egg gives the player a brand new Pokemon as well as an impressive amount of experience points, which a player collects to climb levels in the game. The game’s technology prevents sneaky users from driving, biking, or using any other method of transportation traveling at more than ten miles per hour to complete the required distance for the egg to hatch. Acting as both pedometer and GPS tracker, the game motivates kids of all ages, who might normally spend their summer indoors, to walk several miles every day.
Several graduate students at the NCRC as well as some of their scientist mentors are getting together, fighting gyms, and attempting to “catch ’em all.” Some NCRC labs have chosen to be on the same team (there are teams with distinct colors), and the gyms surrounding the NCRC can be seen constantly changing color, representing the ongoing battle between teams to call the gym their own.
The NCRC has been promoting human health through researching nutrition, agriculture, and exercise ever since its genesis in 2008. With 12 research centers and seven service centers, plus the recent addition of a new partner, the NCRC is bursting with innovation surrounding human health studies and boosting the research and development capabilities of experts from around the nation. Although it is unclear how the designers of the intensely popular new Pokemon app decided which landmarks deserved a Poke Stop or gym, it is only fitting that a research campus devoted to improving human health be the center of Pokemon life in Kannapolis, North Carolina.
By: Kara Marker, NCRC Marketing