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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Gotta catch ’em all at Stony Brook

    They want to be the very best, like no one ever was – but they don’t have to travel across the land, searching far and wide. They just have to join the Pokemon League at Stony Brook online.

    Students who participate in this league, which is a part of the Anime Club, may be playing for a bit of nostalgia or just for a challenge amidst the homework and classes required of the college life. The club’s participation in the league is the brainchild of Kashiem Brown, the president of the club.

    With a simple “like” of the league on Facebook and a download of the Pokemon-Online program, students are immersed in the world of one of the many generations of the game that has inspired shows and movies. Users are able to make as many teams as their hard drive and external drives can store, as long as there is a maximum of six Pokemon in the teams, and check out the Pokedex.

    Battles can start as easily as with a quick message – “Care to battle?” is a message Sean Almon has used before. Those competing can decide if they want spectators.

    Almon, who has collected all eight badges and is now the appointed Gym Gym Leader, almost always has Pokemon-Online, a battle simulator, running on his computer, and has sorted out teams.

    “I was a big fan of Pokemon,” said Almon, who has Pokemon like Whimsicott, Ferrothorn and Haxorus on one of his teams. “This could be used to practice.”

    Teams can be created just to see which Pokemon works best with another Pokemon, and with which skills. Unlike the Gameboy versions, Pokemon-Online does not have any animation in their games, and it’s a matter of clicking which moves the user wants his Pokemon to use.

    The website is very user-friendly, including a Pokedex

    Pokemon-Online gives users the opportunity to talk about their battles and even chat with the competitor during a battle. At the end, they can have a winner or loser message, saying something like “good job.”

    In order to become a Pokemon champion, a user must have all eight badges – Feather, Natural, Inferno, Gym, Cold, Magnet, Occult and Tsume – and move on to the Elite Four. Once up to the Elite Four, the same team of Pokemon must be used so that they can become Champion and be entered into the SBU Hall of Fame. The Elite Four is done by a theme of weather, including Hail, Sunny Day, Sandstorm and Rain Dance. So far, no one has become champion and the Hall of Fame is empty.

    There are rules, however, and they must be followed accordingly. The club doesn’t make the rules either – they use Smogon, a Pokemon forum that provides guidelines for the game.

    According to Jason, an administrator of Smogon, there are about 100,000 registered accounts on the website, “though of course most of them are not actively used.”

    Though he doesn’t know the number of websites, online communities and real-world groups, like the Pokemon League at Stony Brook, “I can say pretty confidently that we are the no. 1 website in the competitive Pokemon niche – at least the #1 English website,” he said in an email.

    Smogon was created in 2004 – and back then, when the site was smaller, the rules were based solely on the site leaders and what they wanted to do. A rule was changed if a site leader felt it was a good idea and most users would go with it, though some would not agree with the judgment.

    Years later, a site leader who wanted to institute democracy in the rule-making process started “Suspect Testing,” a process where someone would “suspect” a rule change to be good, and then would “test” it. With the idea, a rule change is nominated, such as banning or unbanning an item, and if it has enough support, the players will play with the rule for a certain amount of time. At the end of that period of time, the players will vote on whether or not to keep the change.

    “Reception to Suspect Testing has been mixed and often very polarized,” he said. “Some feel it is the best thing to ever happen to Smogon, others feel it is the worst thing. Some people praise the fact that everyone gets a chance to earn a vote and that this results in a better set of rules than we would have otherwise.”

    Suspect Testing has evolved a bit, and while the developer, who is now second in command underneath the president of Smogon, who has taken a less active role, suggests a way he said is simpler and less formal, “I won’t be micromanaging the issue.”

    Smogon does not have much competition.

    “We were the first to take the niche seriously, and so we became the default choice for anyone who cared about competitive Pokemon,” he said. “Being the default choice allowed us to grow to the size we’re at today. Since Smogon’s founding, there have always been a few other websites trying to replicate our model but our size and momentum advantages have proved too difficult for anyone else to overcome.”

    There are multiple tiers, such as Ubers, OverUsed, UnderUsed, Little Cup, Monotype, Dream World and Wifi. In Stony Brook’s Pokemon League, Ubers are not allowed. There are also clauses, such as Species, Sleep, Frozen, Evasion, and OHKO, which deem what is not allowed in the game. Banned items include Soul Dew, Bright Powder, Lax Incense, Focus Band, Quick Claw, Kings Rock and Razor Fang.

    Similarly to Smogon, which is online only with no true physical headquarters, the Pokemon League at Stony Brook is online, which is how they start battles and play their battles, and if it succeeds, Brown said he will reach out to other universities.

    And so, as the theme goes on, with every challenge along the way, with courage the users will face, they will battle every day, to claim their rightful place.

     

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