In Defense Of Pokemon Go

I’m not a gamer, but there have been times when a game has caught my attention and interest.

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The last game I played was via my iPhone. My cousin introduced me to the game. One day while hanging at my mom’s house, I found her deeply distracted by it on her iPhone

Being nosey, I asked what she was playing; she said a game called “Letters.”

“Ohh good distraction,” I thought to myself as we lounged on the sofas at my mom’s house. “Well, how do I play it?”

Once I knew the rules to the game and had downloaded the app to my iPhone, it wasn’t long before I was obsessed. Within a few hours, I found myself levels ahead of my cousin, who had lost interest and started playing another game. I thought, “How could she abandon this beauty.”

I played the game for days on end.

Playing the game “Letters,” was freeing. Not only did it distract me from the stresses of my life (i.e. work, heath issues, and financial struggles), but it brought me joy, pure joy. It was exhilarating. I hadn’t felt this feeling in quite a while. So of course, I wasn’t about to abandon that feeling anytime soon — because not only was I pleasing myself with creativity — but I was teaching myself patience and expanding my mind. For the first time in a long time, I was teaching myself to not only enjoy the fruitlessness of time, but I was enjoying the moment-by-moment interaction of the game — which meant I was merely enjoying life (and technology).

Thus, when I learned about Pokemon Go, my mind was intrigued. I first thought, “Wait isn’t there already a Pokemon game?” Soon I learned how foolish my question was. This new game “Pokemon Go,” was an extension of “Pokemon.” At least I think? I’m serious when I say I’m not a gamer.

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Upon learning it was an interaction game, I thought that’s cool. Then I immediately jumped on the bandwagon and became a mean girl. I began to make fun of adults walking around their neighborhood looking for a Pokemon — and it didn’t seem I was alone in making fun of people and practically being annoyed by the presence of nonstop “gamer’s” on the street.

Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post hates Pokemon Go.

“Pokémon Go is, by all accounts, the single most important digital phenomenon of 2016. I hate it. I hate it with the futile, frustrated passion of anyone who hates an approaching trend and knows, without a doubt, that it will swamp them. I hate the glitchiness of the game, the server crashes and GPS errors that plagued my brief hours with it. I hate the reheated, commercial nostalgia of the whole Pokémon shtick. I hate the lack of mission, the nonexistent narrative, the intended aimlessness of the game: “What is the point?” I demanded, to Jason, who offered only “to catch them all.” Lame.”

Dewey adds, “But most of all, I hate the self-declared singularity that Pokémon Go and its maker, Niantic, are wearing like a laurel wreath: This game, unlike all other games, encourages players to get out in the world, to meet other people, to do and see “real” things.”

The New York Post reports NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton hates the game too.

“That craze is one of the stupidest ones that I’ve seen.”

Bratton thinks it’s turned millennials into “walking zombies.”

On Forbes, a contributor from the Muse is worried workers are more focused on Pokemon Go than their actual work.

“I know for a fact that this is not unusual at other offices across the country. Employees are ducking out for “lunch” in search of Pokéstops or masking their phones under their desk to scan the office for signs of life. Needless to say, it’s already been bad for many people’s productivity.”

“In fact, one Pokémon trainer’s boss decided to take a stand by posting a letter stating: “We are paying you to work, not chase fictional video game characters with your cell phone all day.” Included was a Pokéball with a slash through it and the final word: “Save it for your break time or lunch. Otherwise you’ll have plenty of time unemployed to ‘Catch them all.'”

Despite the fact that bosses have issued a threat to employees that they were risking termination from being distracted by Pokemon during work time, the Muse contributor also believes the game is beneficial because it brings people together. It’s a bonding experience, “So is Pokémon GO the worst thing that happened to the workplace? Probably not. Yes, it’s a crazy distraction. But it’s also become a great bonding experiment. Just as people congregate on the streets to find their catch of the day, co-workers are suddenly getting together and teaming up.”

You know what, I was wrong to make fun of grown folks walking around looking for a Pokemon. I now agree with the Muse writer. The game is beneficial to creating bonds. In the era of political divisiveness, it’s refreshing to see people bonding, in particular adults, and purely enjoying themselves too. Obviously, with such an interactive game, people must be careful of their surroundings and mindful to not overshare their personal information and whereabouts. That said, our country and the world as a whole need more unity and playfulness than hatefulness and separation.

Another benefit, the game also gets people out of their homes and into nature. Matt Hoffman of Science Daily writes, “Playing the game is a lot of fun, and it has been a catalyst to get people moving.”

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Hoffman also boasts about the community aspect, “There is a sense of community when trainers converge in search of Pokémon, or when they gather together at Pokéstops.” Hoffman adds, “The game is bringing people together, providing an opportunity for social interaction and increasing our sense of belonging, which can have a positive impact on our emotional and mental health.”

In conclusion, less hate and judgment and more living for fun. I give Pokemon Go two thumbs up. Just don’t count on seeing me play because I’ve only got time and space for one game in my life, and it’s called “Letters.” Still, I support your right to enjoy Pokemon Go to the fullest.

(Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Tracy Paul & Co)