Gotta Catch em All

Two weeks ago was a defining moment in my relationship with Zach. We took an unusual step together and our lives have changed because of it. I know our marriage is still young, but we have already learned that in life you make decisions that may alter your current reality. Every marriage has these moments. This was our first one.

Yes, it’s exactly what you are thinking. We downloaded Pokémon Go.

Saturday afternoon we spent two hours roaming the streets of Philadelphia catching Pokémon. What is a Pokémon you say? If you are asking that, then you should stop reading and go back to the rock under which you currently reside.

When Zach told me about it, I thought it was a hilarious notion. Catching Pokémon in real time, this is awesome! I felt a warm blanket of nostalgia wrapped around me. I dabbled in Pokémon back in the day. I played the GameBoy game a little bit and I also loved Pokémon snap for N64. I am most familiar with Pokémon because of the coveted video game Super Smash Brothers, a game that Zach and I still frequently play on his N64. Yes, that’s right. My husband owns a working N64.

As I walked down the road staring at my phone screen more than usual, I realized what I was doing and the blanket of nostalgia grew hot. I am a 28-year-old married woman. Is this really what I am doing with my Saturday afternoon? Running around “catching” imaginary creatures?

I looked over at my husband who was grinning like a jack-o-lantern while he flicked his finger across his phone screen to capture a Doduo bird in the middle of 19th street. Right then, I decided, yes, this is what I am doing. This is hilarious.

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We continued on our adventure towards Rittenhouse Square Park. Here, we found many others like us. People between the ages of 15-35, shouted names of Pokémon and laughed as they attempted to catch them all. There must have been at least 50 people scattered about the park. Zach and I looked at our phone screens and quickly realized the park was a gym. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of the game, a gym is where you can train your Pokémon to get stronger and also have battles. If the team you are on owns the gym, you can train there. If it is the gym owned by an opposing team, you can fight to take over said gym. We made the discovery that we lived just a few blocks away from one of center city’s Pokémon hubs. How could we not join in this frenzy?

We circled the park and caught some more Pokémon, becoming more familiar with the game and gaining more experience points. Pidgey, Rattata, Squirtle, Seel, Staryu, are just a few of the Pokémon we encountered that afternoon. We only called it quits because we had to prepare dinner. We were having my brother and his fiancé over. When they arrived we gushed about our newfound obsession and had them playing with us through the night. We went to a bar and the waitress saw us laughing with our phones up, our fingers flicking at the screens as imaginary creatures danced on the table across from us. “Are you playing Pokémon Go?” She laughed as we said yes in unison.

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It sounds crazy, but the simple game has brought people together. There are groups of twenty-somethings wandering around the city laughing together. Zach and I have had funny conversations in our travels with random strangers. On the other hand, it is making us more attached to our phones than normal, which is a downside. It brings people together, but are we really socializing if we are standing in a group of people staring at our phones? I guess this is the way our world socializes now. Maybe the most important thing is people aren’t sitting alone in their houses glued to a TV. There have been reports about how people are trespassing because some of the Pokémon are located in no trespassing zones and you have to be within a certain distance of one to catch it. I also saw one report that a person used the app to lure another person to a certain area in order to rob them. No matter what, there will always be the guy who has to ruin it for people. Just like with anything there are “dangers” of playing and you need to be aware of all of your surroundings. That’s just common sense. Don’t blame an app for getting hit by a car. That’s your fault. Do we automatically forget the “look left, right, and left again” lesson we learned growing up? Come on people.

In the general idea of the game, it is fun. With the state of the world as it is right now, any game that can bring us together should be embraced. As of late, our society is disconnected. Maybe it will take augmented reality games to help us see our actual reality more clearly. We do have common interests, we do laugh at the same silly things. We all have an inner desire to catch em all.

It’s hilarious to me how much attention this app has garnered, especially hateful attention. There have been some angry posts about Pokémon Go players. People say it’s a waste of time and the people that play need to get a life. All apps and games could be considered a waste of time. It’s also a waste of time to construct a ten sentence status about how people are stupid for playing a silly game. This is just like any other fad. Let the Pokémon players have their fun for now until the next fad comes around the corner.

Until then, I’m gonna go catch em all.

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