Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ain't No Shame in That Pokémon Go Game

I've never really played video games. I had a GameBoy when I was a kid, but I sucked at it & didn't find it fun, a side from Tetris. The first time I was ever published was in Disney Adventures circa age 8, when I wrote a letter to the editor saying that video games rotted the mind. (Clearly I was a little bit influenced by my parents' views on the matter.)

That's all to say, I never got into Pokémon. I know what a Pikachu & a Jigglypuff & a Snorlax are, vaguely, because I'm a citizen of this pop culture-obsessed world, but beyond that? I had no idea what Pokémon really even was.

To be honest, I still don't - but that's not keeping me from my newfound obsession with Pokémon Go. Clearly, I'm not the only one - Nintendo stock is soaring because the game is so popular - but it sure is weird to be a 31-year-old woman running around the park searching for Charmanders after a lifetime of not giving a damn.

But you guys. This game is so addictive. My friend Lindsey & I can't stop texting each other about PokéStops & leveling up & gym battle tips & setting lures. It's easily all we've talked about for the last four days.

Monday night, I set out to do some Pokémon hunting in my neighborhood. Someone had set a lure (a Pokémon trap, basically) at the gazebo in a nearby park, so I headed that way... & found about a dozen other people doing the same thing. We all just kind of laughed & averted our eyes & did our thing, still not comfortable outing ourselves as public Pokémon players. The dog-walkers, at least, looked like they had an excuse.

Tuesday, I took a quick lunch break & wandered through the park over to a nearby bar, which is set as a "gym" (where your Pokémon can battle other players' Pokémon for holdings & power). As I stood casually beneath a tree, feeling thankful that the bar wasn't yet open, the manager pulled up & walked toward the building. "Playing Pokémon?" he asked me. "I hear we're a gym!" I sort of laughed & mumbled & shuffled away - but not so far away that I couldn't fight my battle (the first I won, by the way).

And then, as I took another quick mid-afternoon break to stretch my legs, I set out to capture an unknown Pokémon that was lurking nearby. I wandered up & down the street a couple times in an effort to find him, & as I stopped on a street corner to try to track him down, some guy yelled out his window, "You tracking Pokémon?" I laughed yes, starting to become less embarrassed, & he responded, "So's everyone! Lots of good stuff in this neighborhood!" And then he sped off. (I never did find that mystery Pokémon...)

I even chatted with a woman who was playing Pokémon Go in an effort to induce labor. I hope she didn't want too far from home.

I'm gettin' goooood, though, y'all. My favorite coffee shop is a PokéStop, which means I can re-up throughout the day, & my obsession with catching new Pokémon is encouraging me to take more breaks to move around a bit, which is surely good news for my body (& don't worry, I'm still doing my job).

Now the most important question, obviously: Where am I gonna find a Pikachu?
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