Jacob Chesney swung his arms in the air, a grin on his face after claiming Willie the Ram for Team Instinct.
The Ram statue on the Texas Wesleyan campus serves as a Pokémon “gym” on the new Pokémon Go app that launched on iPhone and Android devices July 6.
Chesney and the four other members of the combined alliance between Team Mystic and Instinct – two of three teams offered by the game – were locating the PokéStops and gyms on Thursday at a campus event sponsored by Nerd Central.
The Wesleyan group is purely recreational, allowing students to come and go while expressing themselves by playing games of various kinds, said Chesney, the organization’s president.
The one-hour event had a small number of students walking around Eunice and James L. West Library, Wesleyan Street, Nicholas Martin Hall, and the Brown-Lupton Campus Center catching Pokémon, walking to PokéStops, and claiming the Ram statue “gym” on the Pokémon Go app. A Pokémon gym is a place that you can claim as owned by your team after you compete for it.
“It was a lot of fun,” Chesney said. “Despite the small turnout, I had a blast.”
Chesney, a sophomore education major, said the game has taken the world by storm. He plans to use this new app in Thursday’s event to recruit more members as well as inform new students about the campus.
Chesney and club treasurer, sophomore accounting major Joshua Comer, came up with the idea while working orientations and seeing the large number of freshmen and new transfer students taking interest in the club.
“We know not everyone’s going to know everything and we have a club that’s kind of needs new membership so why not do both at the same time and help people know what campus is and tell them what our club’s about,” Comer said.
Comer and Chesney began working to rebrand the club last spring by changing the name from the Philosopher’s Lounge to Nerd Central. Chesney also plans on making the organization better known by planning more events this year.
Thursday’s Pokémon Go walk was the first event.
“I’m thinking about doing it multiple times throughout the semester,” Chesney said. “It’s not really something that requires too much time, commitment, energy, or really anything from people. It’s just more of a fun get-together thing to do on campus.”
Junior history major Alanna James, a transfer student, attended the event looking to make new friends based on previous experiences with the game.
“Every time I’ve played Pokémon Go and gone out and played with my friends usually we meet other people that are playing it and that’s usually always a really good experience,” James said. “You can meet families, you can meet people that are younger than or older than you, just all types of new friends to make.”
After hanging out with the club members, James plans to join the club.
“They seem like really nice people and I’m roommates with one of their members,” James said. “She really recommends it and they’re not just Pokémon Go. From what I’ve been told any type of thing you can geek out about you can hang out there with them.”
Chesney wants the club to be a place students can hang out without the pressures put on them in other clubs.
“Our club is intended to be an outlet for students to not have to worry about academia, worry about honors society, or worry about any of this stuff,” Chesney said. “Yeah, you have to have a 2.0 or 2.5 to take officer membership in the club but to participate it doesn’t matter what your major is or how well you do in school as long as you’re a student and you want to have fun you’re welcome to Nerd Central.”
Chesney doesn’t think Nerd Central should be the sole proprietor of Pokémon Go on campus either. James agrees. Both think the Golden Ram tour guides could use features of Pokémon Go on tours.
“One thing that kind of scares a lot of new students is that they think: I’m immediately going into the adult world and you are but you’re still a kid,” James said. “If they mention on campus tours that there are some Pokémon Go spots here that would kind of get a little bit more interest during that and it would be kind of fun to know.”
Nerd Central will host weekly meetings every Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Carter Conference Room located in Brown-Lupton Campus Center. For more information, email Chesney at email@example.com.