West Haven Beaches Attract Pokemon Go Players


Karina Krul

West Haven Beach, just a short five-minute drive from campus, has always been a must-see stop for students. Its weekend music events, beautiful views, and lively atmosphere make it a nice place to go to spend time walking around. However, over the past few months it has grown increasingly popular, not just within the University of New Haven student community, but within the whole West Haven community.

It is no coincidence that this spike in tourism has come at the same time as the release of Pokémon GO. This sudden spike in foot traffic may not be so sudden after all.

For those still in the dark, here is a quick crash course. Pokémon GO is a game app that uses GPS to create a virtual world that mirrors the real world and allows you to track, collect, train, and battle Pokémon from the beloved childhood game. Various landmarks in the real world correlate to ‘Pokéstops’ in the game; this is the only way, without spending money, to collect the Pokéballs required to catch Pokémon. The only way to accomplish pretty much anything in the game is to go out and walk.

As if the long walking paths weren’t enough to attract players to the beach, it is also flooded with Pokéstops. As if that was not enough, the stops are almost always “lured,” meaning there is a module on them meant to attract less common Pokémon. This keeps the beach pretty much always crowded from the time the sun comes up to long after it goes down.

Upon arrival at the beach, it is very clear what is happening. There are large clusters of people standing around one location, heads buried in their phones, typically shouting phrases like “Oh my god, there’s a Bulbasaur!”

The easiest way to get quick attention? Shout out where some sort of rare Pokémon is.

There are people of all ages who have just met walking around together discussing their latest discoveries and helping each other find the same things. To many it is a friendly, welcoming atmosphere where they can come together with people from many different walks of life. Many feel the game has brought people together in a way nothing else ever could.

U.N.H. student Nash Khairi says, “Being a resident of West Haven all my life, and a casual beach goer, I’ve never seen so many people of West Haven come together for a common joint interest that is Pokémon GO. It feels like West Haven has been brought closer together.”

However, to other beach goers the new beach scene is a slightly disturbing one.

“I just thought it was kind of comical because people were more concentrated on their phones trying to find Pokémon instead of actually looking at the beach around them,” says UNH student Rebecca Santos.

Regardless of which side you are on, there is no denying that Pokémon GO has brought its influence to all walks of life. It has brought more tourism as well as business to West Haven beach as well as the restaurants surrounding it and it certainly looks like it is here to stay.