Why We Should Appreciate Pokemon Go

My post from last week touched upon heavy issues regarding policing and racial tension in the United States (Here it is in case you missed it). As a writer, I find it important that I open my mind and concentrate my thoughts into issues that affect both me and the society I live in.

However, all work and no play makes Brittany an asshole. Actually, that’s probably why your boss at work is an asshole, or anybody that puts in 40+ hours of work a week and doesn’t put in time for fun.

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Working seven days a week is not fun.

 

I think it’s safe to say that Pokemon Go came at a time when many of us needed a break from life. Many people are balancing one, two, or maybe even three jobs, along with spending time with their loved ones. They can’t take time off to go on vacation or get away from their responsibilities. Just from my experience in New York City, people look most miserable in a packed car with no heat at 7:30 A.M. heading toward a job they hate.

If I were to ask you what is your favorite videogame from your childhood, I bet I can name a few options that come to mind immediately. Many of the 70’s and 80’s babies will claim Pacman, Mario, and Donkey Kong.

For the 90’s babies, myself included, we grew up with Mortal Kombat, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider, and… Pokemon.

I think I can hear you groaning at your computer screen right now, as you feel where this post is dragging you and all you’re thinking is, “Ah shit, not Pokemon Go. I’d rather talk about that Kim and Taylor nonsense than read more about that stupid game.”

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*sniffles* If you don’t remember crying to this, you’re not a real Pokemon fan.

 

Wait a moment. Don’t go. Listen, I get it. Pokemon Go follows you everywhere and you might not even play it. It’s annoying when you’re rushing to work and that guy stops right in front of you to catch a Pikachu. Maybe your kids are pestering you to download the game on your phone because they don’t have their own phones.

Listening to people talk about Pokemon Go can be annoying, but it can’t be worse than listening to Melania Trump plagiarize Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech.

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Don’t worry hon, I’ll wait…

We all know that first and foremost, Pokemon Go is a videogame that distracts from a daily routine and responsibilities. But I can list five true benefits of playing the game:

  1. It encourages real interactions and team-work with other players.
  2. You must explore new areas in order to find certain Pokemon.
  3. It’s okay for all ages (as long as children are supervised).
  4. It does wonders for your mental health, for those that have anxiety or depression.
  5. It’s freaking FREE.

I have a good friend that is slightly obsessed with Pokemon Go. Let’s call him… Red (he’ll appreciate that one). When I say “slightly,” I mean he’ll roam the streets of Washington Heights to catch rare Pokemon at 4am. Months ago, when the game was first announced, Red told everyone that he would quit his job and travel the world as a professional Pokemon trainer. That dream hasn’t quite happened (yet?), but the game has done some interesting things for him.

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Roxie, I choose you?

With respect to his privacy, Red has been going through a tough time regarding his personal life and living situation. When I visit him, he often smokes and tells me about his problems, venting to me because he cannot escape his life by taking a much needed vacation.

Instead, he turned to Pokemon Go. Since the game has been released, I’ve seen Red change dramatically. Whereas a regular video game can encourage laziness, Pokemon Go made Red go outside. He left his apartment and began to walk around, chasing the virtual Pokemon that led him back out into the world. He gained back his happy-go-lucky personality and became more optimistic. Red is no longer looking at the HP bar as half-empty, but as Half-full (okay that was a bad joke, but I just had to).

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I think I would rather see people obsessively playing Pokemon than obsessively drinking to cope with their lives.

Aside from the adults that grew up with Pokemon, there are children that have benefited from playing Pokemon Go.

This child I babysit has an obsession with Pokemon cards. The kind of obsession where he’s constantly asking me to buy him cards or negotiating with me to allow for 15 minutes of watching the Pokemon television show before his bedtime.

We’ll call him Ash 😉

Last week, his mother asked me to join her and Ash at the park to catch up. I hadn’t babysat in almost a month because of scheduling conflicts. Ash’s mother and I watched Ash play in the sprinkler with other kids. She told me how he had become more introverted since her divorce from Ash’s father.

I thought about what I could do for Ash. Suddenly, my iPhone vibrated, signaling that a Pokemon was in the area and ready to be caught. I waved Ash over and showed him my phone.

His eyes lit up as he saw the little Pokemon wiggle in front of a waiting Pokeball.

“You mean there’s an Eevee right there by that tree?” he said.

“Yes! And you can catch it for me,” I said.

Then we proceeded to run around the park, as Ash caught Pokemon and I made sure he didn’t accidentally transfer my Level 875 Golduck.

Later, while Ash played and his mom and I talked alone, she thanked me for being there for her son.

Pokemon Go isn’t a life-changing solution to all of our grown-up-too-mature-for-videogames problems, but it sure as hell is a nice get away that fits perfectly in the palms of our overworked hands. Even when the mass obsession dies down and people begin to move on from its initial hype, I know that Pokemon Go did more than just annoy some people on Facebook with funny memes.

It helped my friend find happiness he could hold onto.

It gave the kid I babysit a sparkle in his eye, just from being able to catch an Eevee in the real world.

It made me feel like a kid again, only worrying about my phone dying and not about my adult problems.

So next time you feel like complaining about Pokemon Go, just remember one thing:

Don’t be an asshole. Let people have their fun.

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*****

Next week I will be away in Cancun, Mexico, taking that vacation I’ve been fantasizing about since January. I’m using this opportunity to take a crack at the travel blog world. I’ll be posting short travel blogs, similar to diary posts, in which I talk about my adventures while I’m gone for the week. It will be a daily occurrence (or at least I will try to make it a daily occurrence).

I want to thank everyone for following this blog and supporting my work. I really do appreciate it.

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