Pokemon Go Thriving in Duluth

by Felicity Bosk

Players at Enger Park working together to defeat Mewtwo in a raid - Photo by Felicity Bosk
Players at Enger Park working together to defeat Mewtwo in a raid - Photo by Felicity Bosk

You probably remember Pokemon Go from when it came out in July 2016. You probably even played it; it was downloaded 500 million times world-wide that summer. Today it may not be as mainstream as it was, but the community of players in the Twin Ports continues to be active and the game has grown as well. This past weekend, dozens of local Pokemon players gathered in Enger Park for a quarterly meet-and-greet to battle, raid, and chat about the game. 

Pokemon Go is an app that encourages you to walk around your community to find and catch Pokemon (the goal of the game is to catch em’ all). You can use your Pokemon to battle other players, or control gyms. Controlling gyms allows players to earn coins to spend on special items. Gyms are also the location of “raids” where certain, usually rare, Pokemon can be defeated by a group of people. Raids are the only way to obtain very rare legendary Pokemon such as Mewtwo. 

Many local players communicate through a Discord server. Discord is an app that makes chatting easy for video games. “Pokemon GO MN Duluth” was founded in July 2017. It currently has 1,177 members. It has switched owners over the past two years and is currently run by a person who goes by Timmy as well as a few moderators. 

“I’m 35, I’ve played since I was a kid. I first played Pokemon Yellow on the original Gameboy. When I heard there was a mobile game I was excited, I downloaded it the day it came out,” he said. 
You may have seen an influx of Pokemon Go players around Canal Park or UMD at certain times, such as the monthly Community Day, or weekly Raid Hours. The Raid Hours have been happening Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Most Duluth players meet at the Minnesota Slip Bridge and walk through Canal Park into downtown, raiding as many gyms as possible in the hour. Crowds for Raid Hours can reach 40 or more players. 

The other large event, Community Day, happens monthly at different times. For three hours, a certain Pokemon becomes extremely common to find, as well as its shiny variant. It will also know an exclusive move. This can bring dozens of people to Canal Park or UMD to try to catch as many of these special Pokemon as possible. 

Canal and Leif Erickson Parks may be popular in the summer, but in the winter, many players head to UMD where you can hunt for Pokemon and complete raids indoors. 
“People never stopped playing Pokemon Go,” said Timmy. “There’s over 1,100 people in the Discord. Yeah, it can get quiet in the winter but UMD becomes extremely active. There are things to do even if the weather is cold.”
Timmy said Duluth’s community is unique because it is helpful and encouraging.
“I’m from Philadelphia and people are very different there, they don’t wait, if you’re not at a raid when it starts you’re out of luck,” he said. “Here, we’ve fostered a community that’s helpful and mentors new players.”
Along with other moderators he works to keep the local Discord server organized, and the community fun by throwing events like the meet-and greet, and being available to help players make the most of the game. 

The link to Duluth’s Discord server is https://discorg.gg/VUZVhkh