By: Graesyn Fenix
If you haven’t heard about the now millions of people playing Pokemon Go, then let me welcome you back to reality and I hope the recovery from your coma goes really well. To catch you up on the insanity, Pokemon is back and it’s making an absolute killing it in the world of mobile app games. We’re not just talking a few hundred people who were into Pokemon when it was first popular and never really let go, this time it’s reached even further than the infectious card game and is being loaded on the phones of children, teens, and even adults.
If you were caught up in the Pokemon crazy before, it’s understandable you’d catch it this time around as well (assuming you ever stopped), since now you’re actually training to be a Pokemon Master by running around catching these strange little creatures. Those of us who didn’t really get into the whole scene last time it struck, well, some of us are actually jumping in with both feet this time around.
I had avoided it for the first week it was out, almost downloading it once over the first weekend but due to a weak cell signal I stopped the download and thought I had escaped. Then I went to book club, and it didn’t take long for the talk of Pokemon’s in the area to start up. The restaurant we were at was a PokeStop. I knew nothing of what they were talking about, words were flying around that i knew were not English and certainly not real animal names, and to be honest I started to feel a little behind the world at this point. The most I knew of the game was what I’d heard on social media, you run around in the real world and “catch” creatures. I’d heard of people walking into light poles, street signs, crime rings and traffic. One person even found a dead body (apparently an accidental drowning) while trying to catch a Pokemon near a lake. I admit, that really piqued my interested, I have a thing for crime shows and podcasts about murder and mystery, not that I really want to find a dead body, just that it could lead to an interesting story or two… but that’s for another blog post.
So there we are at a table of 12 women in their 20s and 30s and half of them are playing the game. Then one of the girls downloads it and starts getting help, then another, and before you know it I’ve grabbed my phone and started the download again. 36 years old and I’m now playing the biggest mobile app game of the year…yeah i’m a nerd. I’m pretty sure that because I know so little about the premise of the game that I’ll end up losing interesting and dropping the app in a week or two, but I’m going to give it a go, and I’ll be updating my progress as i go.
I’ve downloaded the app and my phone hasn’t exploded. I gave my account a name, built a character, and gone through all the standard new app setup, nothing too crazy. i will say that this being a Nintendo game I really though the choice of outfits and the inability to make myself look like someone from Tron or at least have a matching outfit was a wee annoying. Also, way too much white going on there in the clothes.
Now that I’m set up, i meet Professor Willow, he’s the NPC game guide and apparently I’ll be seeing him frequently. He’s a wordy one, but after I finish clicking through what he has to say I am rewarded with a few Pokeball things. Next i need to pick the first one i’m going to catch, luckily my friend was there, or I wouldn’t have known that i could wait just a few seconds for all the options to load, she didn’t know that and ended up stuck with the short fat one (bulbasaur). Other than bulbasaur, you can pick the charmander or squirtle, and because it’s a cute turtle looking thing, i went for the squirtle. First shot… epic miss. Second shot, that fucker jumped. Third shot got him though, so yay, first one caught. The game gives me a rundown of what i just added to my collection and then drops my avatar onto basically google maps without street names. This is where it gets interesting and I manage to nab both the little guy everyone else got inside the restaurant (I was standing by the front door) and as i moved into the parking lot i caught a giant bird thing. I also realized why it’s so easy for people to walk into poles and street signs. Especially after a few beers. This might just be a wee bit more addicting than i thought.
I’m completely hooked. I still don’t know what the creatures are that I’m catching but I’ve walked over 7000 steps just roaming from Pokestop to Pokestop, so the rumors that this could be a conspiracy to help with obesity may just be true and I don’t care. I’ve caught a flamey horse things, a rock dude, and a ton of other stuff and I can’t stop myself now. I check the app when I park my car, I check the app when I walk anywhere more than 100ft, I check my app after I walk to the kitchen at work for coffee. I regret nothing. I have seen people in all walks of life coming together in one little park and be together, share information with one another, and be welcoming to each other. I saw a father walking around with his bouncy 8 year old, they stopped and shared our shady spot for a moment, we talked. I talked to a human outside of my friend circle. We saw singles, couples, and groups. I saw a woman with blue hair and an awesome R2D2 purse dragging her biker boyfriend around from stop to stop. I saw a grandfather and his two grandkids under 10 hunting the streets together. I saw a group of hipsters discussing what they’d caught around a lure to a group of mechanics with grease covered boots and their work overalls. I can honestly say that I’m proud to be one of the millions playing this game, this simple game that is quickly restoring my faith in humanity, my faith in people. All because of some tiny, made up creatures.