For the last couple of weeks we’ve been playing Pokemon GO again. We wanted a reason to get out of the house every evening and go for a walk in the sun, and we’re not people who’re driven by “health benefits”, “free vitamin D” or “normal human activity”.
So we re-downloaded the app from somewhere deep inside of our clouds, and got to walking again. First of all, let me say — Team Mystic for the win!
They’ve added a lot to the game in the last year and a half, but not so much that it wasn’t easy enough to pick up. There are two-hundred new Pokemon to catch, which is great — because I was only really missing twenty or so from the original run of one-hundred and fifty.
I’m not someone who wants to be the best trainer, or gym-battler, or efficient level-upper. I just want to Catch ’em All. That’s what the TV show taught me back in 1999, and so that’s my destiny. Listen to me, taking what an entertainment program says at face-value and allowing it to enter my core-belief system — that’s not what adults do.
An an unrelated note, Fox News have said a lot of crazy things this past week.
Yesterday we went downtown to walk around, spin some Pokestops and hopefully catch a few new Pocket Monsters™. We hadn’t been paying attention to the online community, so we had no idea that it was Zapdos Day. I’d say a thousand people were downtown specifically to play Pokemon Go. Huge flocks of players were walking in unison, looking down at their devices and attempting to catch ’em all.
We actually spoke to some strangers, in an attempt to put a team together to take down a Zapdos, which we could all then catch. Our leader looked like a college professor, but he may have just been cosplaying one of the many Pokemon scientists — he gathered us and we started to look for others.
We found a nervous looking collector, who showed us all of her shiny Pokemon. She seemed panicked that she hadn’t manage to catch a Zapdos yet, as though it were some blight on her very existence that brought a deep shame on her family. Calm down pal, we’ve got this.
Then we met a couple who were pushing their newborn in a stroller. They had two devices each, and so I half expected to see their baby with a smartphone of its own. It turns out it actually did — but it was playing Fortnite.
Our team was formed, and we took on the legendary electric bird together. Post-battle, all of us managed to catch the hulking bird. I mean — I definitely wasn’t going to be successful, but my wife did it for me. She’s a lot better at the game than I am, and what’s marriage for — if not instant, judgement-free video game assistance?
It was great to see so many people enjoying a mobile game that’s been around for over two years. It reminded me that when mobile games work, they’re incredibly social compared to a lot of the voiceless multiplayers of the last decade. Still not quite as social as getting a few of your mates over after school to play something on the original Playstation, with a Multi-tap, but more social than joining a lobby of one-hundred gamers and never saying a word.
During our walk downtown, we got chatting to a homeless guy who was having a rough time of it. I had the most real and genuine conversation I’ll have all month, and it pains me that people think that all of these folks are faking it. Even if they were — you’ve got to question the sanity, or mental health of a person who wants to do that.
Shakur (nickname) obviously had the brain damage he was touting, due to his repeated sentences and apologies for doing so. Oh, and his visible concave skull. Not once did he ask us for anything, he just wanted to have a conversation with someone. We were surrounded by people — other Pokemon Go players mostly — as it was on the central street downtown. Before anyone unnecessarily worries.
Give me ten random homeless people or ten random middle-class Republican voters, and I know who I’d feel safer around. Only one of those groups tries to take things from me in nefarious, devious ways, and let me assure you that it’s never the people who’re struggling on the streets. Also, their stories are far more interesting.
Our conversation reminded me how lucky I am to be able to stick my face in a phone and catch digital creatures, as I enjoy the summer heat as a luxury and not a struggle. Still, to dwell on a comparison of things that are entirely out of my control would only lead to my own madness. Just remember to talk to these people, at the very least. Keep your wits about you if you must — whatever, but don’t dehumanise them.
We’ve been going to parks across the city, to catch our Pokemon, and I have no doubt that when the summer months come to an end we’ll put our phones down once more. But for now, we’re getting some exercise, and some instant gratification.
Summer of 2017 was a busy one for me, with sorting out my Visa and moving from one country to another, so I can see why I didn’t play the game back then. Hopefully Pokemon Go is here to stay, and we can pick it up again in April of 2019 — if the world is still here.
I reckon — due to climate change — that by 2025 we’ll be able to play in thirty-five degree heat for eleven months of the year. So let’s keep burning those fossil fuels people, because I need a complete Pokedex.
Today is Sunday, July 22nd and my cat just tried to scale my cork-board like a climbing wall. Using the push-pins as hand-holds and everything.