The fact that I seem to be infatuated with Pokemon Go is more than a little surprising to me.
I don’t like cell phones. I don’t like how people so often seem to be carrying them everywhere and looking at them far too often. I think they are expensive and fragile.
I am an old grump when it comes to cell phones.
I understand their use and function, I just don’t care for them.
So when I had to replace mine (after nearly four years) this past weekend, I hadn’t been looking forward to it. The one silver lining would be that for the first time ever I’d have a relevant smartphone.
I downloaded Pokemon Go while still at the T-Mobile store as I’d read and seen so much about it; I thought I’d give it a go, myself. This also at a time of great stress due to a family emergency.
I knew I liked Pokemon. Pokemon X is one of my favorite games (I love my 3DS). I had favorite Pokemon for sure, and I thought it would be fun to try out this mobile version.
It all started when I decided to catch Pikachu as my starter.
By now everyone on earth knows that if you walk away from the three starter options enough times, Pikachu becomes available. I just love Pikachu. So I wandered around my neighborhood with my phone out (please note the heavy sense of irony here) until I caught him. I then immediately caught a Meowith next to someone’s Jeep. I realized a Pokestop was just steps outside our door.
I also realized the area I live in is a Pokewasteland. I so rarely seem them around here, though someone keeps placing lures on the super close Pokestop, and that certainly helps.
The first two days I played, I didn’t see anyone else playing. But that all changed a few days ago.
Someone had placed a lure on our local Pokestop so I went out to see what I could catch. I ended up seeing this younger kid (I am terrible with age but I’m guessing 12 maybe?) and his even younger brother. The older of the two was also playing Pokemon Go. We started talking and he started giving me some solid tips on how to maximize my playing. It was super helpful! I had a moment where I realized this game had brought us a strange moment of connection, and that’s something I always love about video games. They connect us in a completely unique fashion.
His little brother started talking to me about Pokemon movies and we all had a good time catching whatever showed up. It was a marvel to me that a fondness for digital creatures allowed me to have such a neat conversation with two people I might never have talked to otherwise.
But last night was a whole new level!
Someone, again, placed a lure on the local Pokestop. I was already outside and I ran into a family of three (two youngish parents and their daughter who was maybe around 6?), and two of them were playing Pokemon Go. We had a fun discussion, and, as I was walking the dog at the time, I told them I would see them at the Pokestop when I was done.
By the time I got there, there were a few other people milling around. Someone mentioned a Pokemon was nearby. We all looked for it. Another group of three people showed up and we started talking. They were telling me about some nearby spots where they caught some rarer Pokemon.
Then these two kids showed up (maybe 13 or so?) and the gave me some great tips! They were both already level 20 (I am only level 8), and they had tons of good advice. I took a moment during the conversation to appreciate that at 9pm on a Tuesday night, I was in a park so close to where I live, having a great time chatting with various folks who were all connecting through a mutual love of Pokemon.
I never could have anticipated that. It was joyous. And that’s saying something after the week I’ve been having. I just felt so grateful to be included.
As the lure faded away, we all started to trickle to our homes. But everyone was calling, “See you soon!” to each other, and I thought that was really something. A game bringing strangers together in the real world in a delightful way.
I’m not going to lie: I kind of had a moment.
I know I check Pokemon Go a little too often for my liking. And I know I wander outside pretty often to stock up on Pokeballs and such. But it’s such a neat thing to me. I love that someone I’ve just met can go racing past me shrieking, “Onyx!!! There’s an Onyx down here!” and we all go searching. People sharing and communicating and helping each other. No one in the park knew who kept putting lures there for us, but we all appreciated it.
I’m just a bit mesmerized at how this whole thing is playing out. I love that it is doing things no one could have predicted.
And with that I just say, I love video games. I’ve long been a fan of how they bring people together, and Pokemon Go takes it to another level entirely.
If you are also playing Pokemon Go, what have been your favorite moments while playing so far? I’d love to hear about them!
Have fun and be safe out there, trainers!