I Love Pokémon Go, but Not Why You Think I Do
Yes, yes, I know. There’s a very good chance that as you read this you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m so gosh darn tired of hearing about Pokémon Go!” And I can’t really say I blame you.
Even though Pokémon came to America when I was a wee boy, I never really got into it. Truth be told, we used to tease the kids who liked Pokémon. It was right up there with liking the Power Rangers: It was your dirty little secret and unless you wanted to loud and proud about it, you kept that shit to yourself.
Kids. What a bunch of jerks, amiright?
Fast forward far too many years to now. As parents of three kids, my wife and I have weathered so many pop culture obsessions by our children that our Presidential Medal of Freedom proclamations should arrive in the mail any day now. You name it, we’ve had to help our kids collect their breath and reign in their fanaticism over it:
Pokémon with Thing 1.
The Jonas Brothers.
Thomas the Tank.
Barbie again (this time with Thing 2)
Pokémon again (this time with Thing 2)
Yo Gabba Gabba
Thomas the Tank again (this time with Thing 3)
FFS, BARBIE AGAIN! (this time with Thing 3)
And now, thanks to Pokémon Go, Pokémon has struck again, big time!
While I don’t particularly want to be re-educated on all things Poké again, I am quite happy about it for a few reasons:
My kids go on walks with me
It’s summertime and the livin’s easy. That also means my children spend most of their day when we’re at work sitting on their butts watching TV and playing video games. Since I downloaded Pokémon Go on my iPhone, my kids go on walks with me around the neighborhood at night, which means they are exercising without making it into a dramatic infringement upon their inalienable human rights.
Last night, Thing 3 and I went on an adventure by ourselves. We caught four Pokémon (one little Poké-critter escaped), we explored the church parking lot by our house, we hunted Pokémon in the playground of the school across the street, we walked through neighborhoods we’ve lived in for almost seven years now but never explored, and we got to visit the cactus plant at a nearby garden center that Thing 3 adopted as hers many years ago.
It facilitates communication and bonding
Kids, especially teenagers, get to a point where they feel like they’re just being bossed around by the evil parent machine day in and day out. Last night after Thing 3 and I returned from our walk, Thing 1 and Thing 2 spent about 45 minutes on the couch with me, educating me on which Pokémon types are best to use in battles against another type, which Nintendo DS Pokémon games were the best, and also why they like certain Pokémon over others.
While this is a conversation that won’t change the world, I had a great time. Not only because it was a departure from the incessant blitzkrieg of Minecraft jibber-jabber, but also because my kids were spending time enthusiastically talking to me about what they like.
Hell, some days I can barely say “Good morning” to my teenager without my face being ripped off. So for her to sit down on the couch right. next. to. me. and talk, laugh, and open up, is something that doesn’t happen very often and it something I’ve sorely missed.
It makes the ordinary fun and exciting
Here’s the thing parents (myself included) have a difficult time understanding: Today’s children cannot have the childhood we used to have. I know, it sucks. But I’m giving you the straight dope right now.
As a kid growing up in the 80s, everything was different. The way parents approached play time was different. We got up, did our chores, and went off playing all day and many times were told to only come back when the street lights came on. Oh, and try to remember to call and check in at home every few hours.
But today’s world doesn’t accommodate that flavor of childhood any longer. So like it or not, technology is a cornerstone of our children’s lives. Like anything else, if kids are going to learn to be responsible with something, you let them have it gradually and then eventually the training wheels have to come off and they have to sometimes learn the hard way, and that includes giving them the space to self-regulate their usage.
When I was a kid, you’d be smacked if you had a Game Boy in your pocket at a restaurant but today, a phone with purportedly more technology than was used to send Americans to the moon sits in our pockets with barely a thought about it.
My point with this is that the other night at a restaurant with a bunch of family, the kids were getting restless while the adults sat around talking. So I pulled out my phone, fired up Pokémon Go, and I kept the kids occupied for a little bit while we sat at the table catching Pokémon. It turns every day situations into something more enjoyable.
Pokémon Go has built-in exercise requirements
I won’t lie, in playing around with the app, I’ve caught an unreal amount of Pokémon sitting in bed or sitting on the toilet. I didn’t realize this until last night what lengths the app creators went to specifically develop the app to get people up and moving.
You can get Pokémon eggs (I don’t know where, I just ended up with two of them after last night’s walk) and in order to get them to hatch, you put them in an incubator. But guess what! The incubator only works when the app talks to your phone and find that you’ve walked 5k. It doesn’t seem to matter how long it takes to log that distance, only that you do the walking, which gives new meaning to that fitness phrase, “It doesn’t matter how slow you go. You’re still lapping everyone still sitting on the couch.” The app also seems smart enough to not log driving speeds as movement.
I’ll leave you with this: You can hate Pokémon and Pokémon Go all you want and I certainly don’t blame you one bit. But please don’t sit there on your self-centered moral high horse and try to denigrate all of us who enjoy this app, regardless of what our reasons are.
For some who have been Pokémon fans their entire lives, this is probably one of the best weeks of their lives.
For people like me who were dragged into the Pokémon universe kicking and screaming by raving, fanatical children foaming at the mouth, we have our own reasons for enjoying the app.
Either way, we’re not hurting anyone (except ourselves, based on some headlines) so let us have our fun.
Also, my kids have terrible aim and burned through my stockpile of Pokéballs in no time at all while attempting to catch Pokémon. How do you get more?