Off topic, but POKEMON!

So, we are taking a bit of a tangent today and I want to share my feelings about the new PokemonGo craze that’s popped up over the last week or so.

I grew up with Pokemon. My mom had the old Gameboy handheld that didn’t even project a color picture and the only games I had to play were Zelda, Tetris, and Pokemon Yellow. As a child, I played it often and got sucked into the world of Pikachu, Squirtle, Charmander and Mewtwo. I watched the TV show, bought the cards and collectibles, I even had a hat just like Ash’s and pop-open pokeballs to throw. Before PokemonGo even existed, I took walks with my mom around the neighborhood catching pokemon that weren’t really there. I had maybe one or two other friends who were hardcore for pokemon when I was growing up. But, as I got into middle school, the fad faded and pokemon wasn’t “cool” anymore so I dropped it in an attempt to make friends. All those games, figurines, and cards that my parents bought were sold to other people and to this day, I don’t know where they are.

Fast forward to about a week ago and I’m seeing some of my friends going nuts over this PokemonGo game and talking about team Valor and hatching eggs and I’m like “whhaaa??” I download the app and after playing it for two days, I knew all I needed to know about it.

It’s very different from the actual game and is nothing like what people might expect. It’s not an “adventure”. You’re not Ash, leaving the home you grew up in to set out on a journey with a specific crazy goal in mind. You’re not wandering through the woods battling strangers and catching wild animals that have the potential to kill you. You’re not living from meal to meal, sometimes going days without eating but knowing you still have to carry on to achieve your goal. What Ash and his friends showed was what all the adults in the real world have done. They left home, got jobs, faced the hardships of life and hopefully had a goal behind it all whether it was to make 6 figures a year or raise a family. PokemonGo is a game, just like all the ones produced by Game Freak and Nintendo to occupy our free time. I’ve been hearing about people taking it way too serious.

With that out of the way, I do see many advantages to PokemonGo. I have a friend who is overweight and she is using the game to make her walks and exercises more enjoyable. It’s getting a new generation interested in the franchise again and I foresee sales for the games hitting an all-time high. Families can go out and spend time together hunting for pokemon.

A bridge between generations has been formed and people like me can have something in common with the younger crowd (for once). Not only that, but it’s become something of a social equalizer. Coworkers who had nothing in common before, can now flip out over the fact that there’s a Raiku on the other side of the building. The nerds can now teach the preps and jocks. Pokemon, a story founded on the value of friendship, has the potential to bring together groups of people and transcend racial discrimination and language barriers.

On the flip side, PokemonGo needs to be played responsibly. The intro features that Gyrados warning you to be aware of your surroundings, but as we all know, warning labels were created for the stupid people in the population and accidents still happen. There was a false story circulating over Facebook about a man who stopped in the middle of the road and caused a wreck because he was trying to catch a Pikachu. This article may have been false, but it doesn’t erase the fact that too many people are trying to catch pokemon while they’re driving. In my opinion, that’s even more distracting that texting and driving. Use common sense and wait for a red light or when you’re waiting for your burger in the drivethru. Going down the highway at 70mph, that Rattata is going to be gone quicker than you can tap on it anyway.

Also, reserve recreational games for times when you’re not supposed to be doing something WORKING. That’s what lunch break is for! Your boss is going to catch you catching pokemon in your cubical or over the fryer anyway. Save it for break time. Also, if you work in an environment where you have to be alert for the safety of others, please don’t put someone’s well being at risk just to get that last pokemon so you can level up. It can wait. I know how addictive games are, but even when you’re not working and you’re at home, don’t let dishes pile up or responsibilities slip out the window. Put down the phone, get your crap done, spend time with your family, THEN play the game. Pokemon is not more important than your relationships with others and your productivity. Use common sense and priority lists if you have to.

I’ve been playing the game for about a week now and although the server crashes have gotten a lot better, I’m still not overly impressed. It is fun and exciting to a certain degree, but more than anything it made me miss the old games. A few days after I started playing, I went to my neighborhood GameStop and purchased a pre-owned Nintendo DS and Pokemon Pearl to play. Both the game and the system are one step above where I left off as a kid (playing Pokemon Sapphire on a Gameboy Adv SP). I’ve had fun and gotten 4 gym badges. It’s more challenging than I remember, but thank the internet gods that there are help sites for this stuff.

In close, I’ll say that PokemonGo is great fun, but like I said before, needs to be played responsibly. For those who are new to Pokemon, educate yourselves in the old games and shows (Pokemon: Indigo League is on Netflix and I highly recommend it).

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