Most likely, you have either heard of it, started playing it, been annoyed by discussions about it on social media, or bumped into someone on their phone who then yelled something about a CHARMANDER and then scuttled away…
It’s true that there has been a lot of negative press about this game; this article lists all the reasons you shouldn’t let your kids play. This article talks about a guy who got caught cheating because of it. Newscasters are interrupting broadcasts because they are too distracted to notice.
Much worse, there are stories of robberies potentially motivated/assisted by it. People are disrespecting places like the Holocaust Museum by wandering around there chasing Pocket Monsters.
But is Pokemon GO really all bad?
Being the hard-nosed investigative blogger than I am, I had to find out.
I downloaded it earlier this week (it’s free!)
Quick caveat- I’m NOT a gamer. I had a Nintendo ES when I was five. My sisters and I all saved up our money and chipped in so we could get one because my parents didn’t really support the idea. So I grew up playing a little bit- I played Duck Hunt. I liked Tetris. I excelled at Castlevania.
But that’s the extent of my video gaming experience. In the iPhone era, I just never got into Candy Crush. Sure, I dabbled in Words with Friends (just once at a party, I swear. Someone else brought it.) But I never thought I was Pokemon GO’s target audience.
After a week of playing it, I understand its appeal.
At this point, I think I know the basics of the world of Pokemon GO.
I have had time to think about whether it’s a Failed Fit or a Fantastic New Fit.
Shocker: I think it’s fantastic.
Here’s why. It’s getting people OUTSIDE to be ACTIVE. Even previously active people like me are adding more activity to their day.
Examples? Tuesday night, Dustin and I were watching Orange is the New Black and I pulled up the app. There was a Pokemon outside! I suggested we go for a late night walk and even after I caught that darn Rattata, we kept walking. So we were more active that evening than we would have been otherwise.
On Wednesday night, I ran a 7 mile trail race at Lebanon. I arrived early and pulled up my Pokemon GO app to see that there were several Pokestops where I could load up on Pokeballs right near me. So instead of meeting up with my friends before the race, I wandered around the park looking for these Pokestops. Did I miss out on chatting with friends, (a common symptom of any electronic entertainment?) Sure, but I was still being physically active…right?
During the race, the trail was still open to the public and I ran past several groups of middle school to high school aged kids walking the trails. Sure, they were on their phones chasing the pocket monsters, but they were there OUTSIDE. At a park. WALKING.
Not to judge a book by its cover, but these MAY have been kids who might not have otherwise ever come to Lebanon Park, or any other public place without a power outlet. They might have instead been inside on their video games, living their dream.
But guess what? They were OUTSIDE. WALKING. IN NATURE.
Another example. One of my sisters downloaded the game for her son (but on her phone). She had just finished a run and pulled it up on her phone to check it out. You know, “FOR HER SON.”
Oh, look, there’s a Pokestop a mile away! she mused, but the app told her, “that POKESTOP is too far away!”
Too far? Challenge accepted! She ran the extra mile (actually, extra TWO miles) to get those Pokeballs. And just like that, she added two more miles onto her run.
Not only are previously sedentary people adding activity, but active people are adding more activity! WIN WIN.
Watch out Tilda, there’s a Pidgey on your head!!!
I read rumors that Pokemon GO is just a ploy by Michelle Obama to push her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign. I kind of hope that rumor is true, because, well MICHELLE OBAMA IS AWESOME and also because it’s a genius way to get people to be active.
I also heard another rumor that it’s a government spy program. I hope that rumor is less true, otherwise the government is going to have a good chunk of data surrounding me chasing a MAGIKARP down the street at 4 am (Correction: The last time I was up until 4 am was actually when I got up at 4 am for a 6:30 am marathon. I do not stay up until 4 am.)
As I have progressed in the game, it has required MORE activity. I have eggs that I can “incubate” by walking (who am I kidding. RUNNING) a 5k, a 10k, etc. There are Pokemon ‘Gyms’ around my house that I can take over if I level my Pokemon up enough (I’m looking at you Calhoun Towers. You will be mine…)
I understand the “risks” involved (see above articles). It’s not all inclusive. You mustn’t let the game take over your life (please don’t let me catch you playing at WORK!).
But my final thoughts?
POKEMON GO is THE RIGHT FIT.
And just for fun, my favorite local running store, Gear, is offering a free pair of socks if you catch a Poke in their store this week!