4 minute read

This post was originally written by Lisa Thompson.

Fact: I’ve been trying to get my 17-year-old son off the couch for years. Pokemon Go did it overnight. He told me last night, “Mom, I’ve walked 25 kilometers in the past week.”

Shut. The. Front. Door. (Figuratively. Not literally. I don’t want to block his pathway to the outside world.)

Two cool things: First, I don’t think he walked 25 kilometers TOTAL during the whole “try this sport, honey, maybe you’ll like this one” phase we put him through during grade school. We’d throw a ball, it’d bounce off his chest and he’d cry abuse and look at us like, “What’d you do that for?” Physical activity. Not his thing.

And second, our country may be on the verge of accepting the metric system! At the very least, we’re finally going to learn it. All because we’re chasing virtual Pocket Monsters. Americans. We are a quirky bunch, aren’t we?

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook: “I know it just started, but I’m officially over the Pokemon thing. Imagine what would happen if we got this engaged with something important.”

On first glance, I felt a bit scolded—like I should donate my Pokeballs to charity, set my Pidgeys and Rattatas free, delete my app and get rid of everything frivolous or fun in my life. Maybe become a nun or join the Peace Corps. Then I remembered that I had just leveled up, evolved my Ekans into an Arbok and was thisclose to taking over a gym. So, yeah. I just deleted her as a friend instead.

I get that Pokemon Go is just a game (albeit the biggest mobile game in U.S. history) and it may seem silly, but I’m a let’s-focus-on-the- positive kind of girl, so I smell what Nintendo’s cooking.

Let’s celebrate the cool things about this monstrous craze (pun totally intended—or Nintended, as it were) and not be all uppity about it, shall we?

I’m playing with my kids again.

They’re 17 and 20, and we go for walks at 11:00 p.m. to hunt for Pikachus and collect Pokeballs and hatch eggs and take over gyms and, basically, to achieve world domination. I don’t know about you other moms, but this beats harping on my kids to clean up their dishes and feed the dog. I mean, I still do that. But Pokemon has brought balance to my life. Harp, then play. So zen.

People are commingling.

When university officials opened Memorial Stadium in Lincoln a few weeks ago, 4,000 gamers showed up to populate their Pokedex. At my neighborhood lake in San Jose, I can always spot at least a dozen people wandering around, pointing their phones at trees and bushes, swiping Pokeballs and yelling, “I got ‘em!” Yup. It’s a goofy game. But it’s getting people out and about and engaged with each other and something other than their Facebook newsfeeds and sensationalized CNN headlines. I’m not making light of serious issues going on in the world. I’m just saying, it’s refreshing to see people come together at a time when the current political and social climate is fairly polarizing.

It’s better than Tinder.

In fact, the Pokemon Go app has become more popular than Tinder—or so I’ve read. And before you go, “They’re not the same thing, why compare?” let me say, you’d be surprised at the similarities. They both involve swiping. And hunting. And luring. And competing. And power struggles. And gyms (why do dudes love to take selfies in weight room mirrors?). The only difference, really, is that the little monsters can’t send inappropriate messages or ask for scintillating pictures. On the Pokemon Go app, I mean. Which leads me to yet another similarity: They both have little hooligans you want to chuck a ball at. Or so I’ve read.

I know there have been some safety concerns with Pokemon Go (OMG, another Tinder similarity—they just keep coming, am I right?), but the biggest issue I’ve faced is which color of team to choose at level 5. My son was blue, my daughter yellow. I chose yellow, because girl power. My son keeps taking over gyms, though, so clearly he was unfazed.

And so we keep on playing. Capturing. Evolving. Leveling up. Searching for Pokestops. And laughing at the frivolity of it all. And I’m super okay with that. Because guess what? I AM engaged with something important. Fun, laughter, friendly competition, a little bit of exercise, a whole lot of silliness, and most significantly, my kids. Sounds like a lot of positivity right there. I’ll take it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Weedle on my coffee mug—and that is in reference to Pokemon Go, not Tinder. Just to be clear.