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Pokémon Go redefines night-life for New Mexico college students

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A massive number of young adults are not out bar-hopping Friday night in the Albuquerque metro area, they’re playing Pokémon Go.

Two decades after its first debut, Pokémon is all the craze once again. This time it’s interactive, with an emphasis on ‘active.’

“You know going from an 8-bit no color screen to a full color 3D world, it’s amazing, it’s a lot of fun,” said James Walker, with the University of New Mexico Residence Life.

It’s now normal to see people wandering with their phone hunting virtual characters with Pokémon Go.

But if you want to take ‘interactive’ to the next level, it’s easy to find Pokémon players a plenty at the University of New Mexico campus. Campus officials are embracing the craze, encouraging people to stay safe and stay active.

One of the most popular Poke-stops on campus is right in front of Zimmerman library.

“Pretty much every walk of life is here, it doesn’t matter,” Walker said.

Walker said the craze is building community, so why not embrace it?

UNM Residence Life hosted a meet-up complete with a charging station, music, and free water.

“It gets people to interact in ways that maybe they wouldn’t usually,” Walker explained.

Plus, the game encourages people to go outside and walk around.

“I know I’ve hit my steps every day this week playing it,” Walker said. “I think my friends and I have hit at least five miles minimum every day that we’ve played it together.”

UNM Health even tweeted Friday, asking employees to join in a Pokémon walk.

So how does one get hooked? “Catching the first Pokémon, I was just like Pokémon! You know it’s crazy,” said 25-year-old Kevin Harrison.

Harrison said it’s been a good crazy.

But even if you don’t know the lingo, the massive group playing Pokémon Go on UNM’s campus will help you out.

UNM campus police and security are always around. They’re encouraging people to call if they’re playing late and need an escort to their car.