A New (Old) Way to Explore NYU: Pokemon GO

A New Way to Explore Campus

Remember Pokemon GO? I haven’t played it since it debuted nearly five years ago and I was curious about where it was today, and if it was still an enjoyable experience. I started by talking to my dad, who is still playing the game even hitting the max level before the developers increased the level cap! He told me that the game is still enjoyable and has been upgraded a lot over the years in order to help provide people with a good way of meeting people and an enjoyable game to play. With this knowledge in hand I felt confident reinstalling the game and seeing how the experience was for a graduate student and how NYU could better cater to those who use the app, as well as how the app can be a good resource for students and applicants!

Pokemon GO Screenshot

The Game Today

First and foremost it’s important to examine the app and ask, what good can it do? Well it’s a wonderful tool for those who are new to New York, especially those moving here for graduate school as the app has built in features that require players to meet one another. Whether it be trading between players, fighting large battles together against strong pokemon, or even fighting another player, all of these are quests that the game makes you do, and ensures you will be speaking to and meeting new people. Your goal is to catch creatures roaming about the world known as pokemon (the little monsters with circles around them), and to do this you get items that help you catch them and power up at things called pokestops (the little blue spinning stops) which are located around local landmarks, some of these pokestops are gyms where you can battle other players and fight eggs that hatch nasty ‘raid’ monsters!

Meeting Other People

A major “new to me” update was the discovery of daily quests that required interacting with other players. While there were less people playing the game than back in 2016, the game was a lot more vibrant as it had more features, quests, and activities to participate in. While I was somewhat hesitant at first, the new quests and battles forced me to engage with other players in order to complete and beat them, with new things like their raid battle system it’s easy to meet new people. Simply casually playing myself around Washington Square Park I managed to speak with a few other people playing and felt very welcome as a newcomer. There are fewer players right now but the game facilitates meeting the other people playing more-so than any other game I’ve ever played mostly due to the fact that it’s all in person, which during COVID-19, is a nice way to interact with people. It should be noted however you can socially distance and play with other people up to about 20 feet away so it’s not a dangerous way to meet people!


While getting back into the game and playing I also noticed that NYU was one of the best locations to play, due to the abundance of a certain pokemon named ‘Glameow’ along with a wide variety of pokestops, landmarks you spin to get items in the game. After speaking to a few of the people in the park, it turns out that there’s even a map for where pokemon are, which led many to NYU and Washington Square Park to capture these creatures! It was interesting to hear about these sorts of occurrences, and the reasons for which people come explore the main area of NYU’s campus!

While I was still a little confused about the game, thankfully the people at Washington Square Park were very helpful and I even friended some of them in the game. They were very accommodating and willing to help me out with some resources. There's even an active Reddit thread for NYC and the game as well as different Facebook groups for people who still enjoy the game. While NYU doesn’t have a specific club for the game, it’s still a great way to meet fellow students who play the game and meet people more generally!

Pokemon Go Screenshot

Pokemon Go Screenshot

Touring Campus

Aside from my wonderful experience meeting other students and people in general playing Pokemon GO around NYU, I wanted to figure out and think about how the app could be used by those who wanted to tour the campus! It already brings a variety of people to the area and encourages people to walk around, however while you’re in the area there are a few stops that I personally would love to recommend for students to visit! The first is the Elmer Holmes Bobst statue in front of the Bobst library along with The NYU Owl stop, and of course the Washington Square Park Pokestop! All of these stops are near one another and along with some of the gyms in the area almost force anyone playing Pokemon GO to take a brief tour of NYU through spinning the pokestops. I’ve taken the liberty of mapping out a path that will get you a lot of Pokestops as well as providing you with a nice tour of the campus while you’re in the area.

Pokemon GO Map

So, Should You Play Again?

Overall I had a wonderful time playing an old game that I hadn’t thought of in years, and it really helped me both meet some people, and feel like a kid again. If your goal at NYU is to either look around the campus or meet some new friends, I can’t recommend Pokemon GO enough! I got to meet some new people who were very accommodating and willing to help me learn more about the game. It was a wonderful experience and helped me get out of the house during COVID-19 and it’s something I’ll definitely be playing more of when I have more freetime.