Pokemon hiding at Davis Wade Stadium will have to stay there, according to Mississippi State University officials.
Local universities are having to adapt as Pokemon Go continues to grow among student populations.
At MSU, that means reminding students to adhere to the university’s procedures and staying out of areas that are normally off-limits.
“We’re obviously aware of the phenomenon” said MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter. “We want our students and others who are engaged in the activity to have fun and pursue that. There are any number of spots on campus where Pokemon can be captured. We just ask that people who engage in that activity do so safely and do so in a manner that’s respectful to others.
“I don’t anticipate that we will change any of our operating procedures in a nod to that activity,” he added.
That includes, Salter said, opening Davis Wade Stadium for student access to look for Pokemon.
Since early July, when the popular mobile game released in the United States to immediate, wide-reaching success, several schools such as the University of Nebraska, Notre Dame and Texas A&M have organized events to open their stadiums and let students in to look for Pokemon.
However, Salter said MSU has not considered any activities based around Pokemon Go, and will not open Davis Wade Stadium.
“We don’t have any plans to have the stadium utilized for that activity,” Salter said. “After the events of the last six months, we are working very diligently to reinforce the message that when the stadium is not open for official business, it is closed.”
A Mississippi State student died in early May after falling from the stadium’s south end zone video board. The student, 21-year-old Andrew Scott Demboski of Ocean Springs, entered the stadium while it was closed and accessed the video board through a maintenance access point.
MSU has since taken steps to reinforce security at the stadium while it’s closed.
Pokemon Go, a mobile game for Android and iOS phones developed by Niantec, Inc. that uses Nintendo’s popular Pokemon franchise, encourages players to explore the areas around them in search of Pokemon. The game uses GPS data to populate the world with the fictional creatures, and places Pokemon gyms and Pokestops in real-world locations such as parks, churches, airports, museums, businesses and other places that tend to draw visitors.
Both MSU and the Mississippi University for Women are home to a number of such locations, and are working to come to grips with the challenges and opportunities they present.
Salter said MSU is continuing to review which sites on campus the game has designated as gyms or pokestops. However, he said MSU isn’t ready to offer a comprehensive list or assessment.
“We’re learning more about how the game developers have incorporated sites at the university into the game,” he said. “We’re learning about that daily and reviewing it.”
MSU Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois said his office has not received any reports of problems associated with Pokemon Go.
At MUW, Dean of Students Sirena Cantrell said she wasn’t aware of any safety issues or concerns that have arisen since the game released.
“We do have a smaller summer school population,” she said. “There are not a lot of students who live on campus. I would assume we would see more playing when school comes back.”
Cantrell said there aren’t any areas of immediate concern for students to avoid, but she did encourage them to be mindful of summer classes if the game leads them indoor in search of Pokemon.
Still, Cantrell said there’s a chance for the university to use Pokemon Go positively, since the game has dotted MUW’s campus with locations to attract players.
“I think that’s really cool,” she said. “That’s might be something we could use to our advantage to get people to visit or even to get students out and about–especially new students. They can get nervous away from home, and it might be away to draw them out of their residence halls.”
Bourgeois said he felt anything that motivates students to go out and be social on campus is a good thing. However, he noted that it’s important for students to remember to interact with each other without the game to motivate them.
“I think any time students get out on campus and explore and interact with each other, that can have positive benefits,” he said. “However, from time to time I also ask that students look up from their phone screen and look each other in the eyes.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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