Ready, Set, GO!
Guys, I have been playing the hell out of Pokemon Go.
While it is not everything I ever hoped it would be, it’s damn close, and I love it. I was a big Pokenerd when I was a kid, back when the first generation games were released. I was in elementary school and my parents got my sister and I each a GameBoy Color, and a copy each of the Pokemon games. She got Blue, I got Red, and a lifelong love of Pokemon was born.
I used to play my GameBoy non-stop. I think my parents paid more for AA batteries than for food for a family of four. I don’t think my parents ever quite understood my fascination with Pokemon (and never would understand my love of video games), but they played along and dutifully bought me every Poke-themed item I could ask for. Pokemon Snap and Stadium for the N64 (which I still have), Pokemon cards (…also still have), a stuffed Pikachu (…it’s in storage somewhere…), Pokemon Gold and Silver, Pokemon Happy Meals at McDonald’s…you name it, I wanted it, they bought it. I think they were secretly relieved when I eventually phased out of my Pokemon obsession and moved on to other games and franchises.
While my sister was never as obsessed with Pokemon as I was, the two of us used to play Red and Blue together all the time. We’d connect our GameBoys to battle and trade, and I usually came out the better in both of those. As far as I know she never picked up Pokemon again after elementary school, but I eventually found my way back to the series when I discovered my (then) boyfriend’s GameBoy Advance a few years back. He had one of the later generation games…Leaf Green? Soul Silver? I dunno. Something like that. I played that for a while, then forgot about it. Then I downloaded a GameBoy emulator on my phone and started played Red all over again. It was an awesome way to pass the time at my old job, where I worked sort of on call with long stretches of time with nothing to do but read books and play mobile games (it was great at first and quickly became soul sucking. No, seriously, you think you want a job that low key until you have one, and then the boredom kills you).
When they first announced Pokemon Go, I was so excited. I had really high hopes for the game. I wanted to see an open world where Pokemon roamed around, waiting for the player to find them and battle them to capture them. The game isn’t exactly as immersive and realistic as I had originally imagined, but it’s a whole lot of fun. And to be fair, I don’t really have the time to battle every Pokemon I stumble across in the app, anyway.
The local state university, which is directly across the street from me, is a Pokemon Mecca if ever I saw one. 30+ Pokestops within easy walking distance, 4 or 5 gyms, and easily accessible to anyone who wants to come play. My husband and I have gone for a Pokewalk there several times now in the evenings and have found ourselves surrounded by tons like-minded people all having fun and engaging with each other in ways our community usually doesn’t. On Monday night I swear there were more than a hundred people on campus after dark, all of them playing Go, everyone being generally awesome to one another. It’s a really great way to de-stress after work and get some exercise while meeting new people.
I hope Niantic and the good folks at the Pokemon company continue to iterate on and update the game. In a few months when the hard-core players have exhausted themselves and the more moderate ones have grown less enthused, I hope the developers have a few new tricks up their sleeves to keep players interested and engaged. Maybe adding later generations of Pokemon (Mareep is one of my all-time faves) or the ability to engage other players directly in battle. I’d also like to see a system for trading Pokemon to others.
If you’re one of those people who feels the need to be immediately negative about something harmless that other people are clearly enjoying, please consider keeping your mouth shut. There’s so much negativity and awfulness in our world right now; you do not need to add to it. It is not necessary to belittle or degrade people for having fun. Grow up.