Unless you have been living under a rock this week, you’ve probably heard the gaming trend called Pokemon Go sweeping the nation.
Since the game was released on July 5, I noticed the trend hitting the streets of Troy this past week. Scores of children, families and people of all ages have been hunting for these mythical creatures through their cell phones. You can spot Pokemon people a mile away, usually in herds with their phones stretched out and waving from side-to-side.
Monday evening I watched as teens stood outside The Rec waving their phones around erratically as if bees were in their pants. Through the newsroom windows, we watched as children stopped by the rock fountain (no longer in service) where a water character was hiding. I mentioned this observation at a board meeting that evening and a man shared how his daughter walked 3 miles that weekend to play the game. He also added he had never seen her walk 3 miles in her life.
After hearing that, of course, I downloaded the game just to see what the fuss was about. Evan arrived back from his vacation in Texas this week. Sure he had a great time with his cousins at the lake house, but the first thing he shared was how many Pokemon he caught in the Chicago airport during his layover.
I signed up for the game, which uses Google maps to guide players to certain areas to find these cartoon creatures. I also quickly learned that Pokemon do not live out in the country. This is both a blessing and an inconvenience.
Thankfully I won’t have to worry about Pokemon lurking in the cornfields — not that Evan could fit through the tight rows thanks to precision planting techniques. As a child, my twin and I would wander through the rows of corn and get lost for hours on end. While this childhood pastime is no longer an option, I’m glad I won’t have to use my drone to locate my kid in the cornfields as he hunts for a “Pokemon Lure” near the creek bed.
So while the countryside is a safe Pokemon-free zone (for now), I took Evan to the nearest metropolitan area to let him play the game. Let’s just say, Fletcher has yet to be run over by Pokemon Go gyms and other stuff.
But, we still gave it a shot. Through the phone, gamers can “see” various Pokémon characters placed at various locations. Once they are found, you throw a Pokéball to capture the character. Then you get to add the character to your collection, which earns points. The more points a user gets, the faster they move up a level.
We grabbed Shorty the dog and took a walk around the village searching for Pokemon. Evan found one about a mile away so we kept walking towards the indicator. Let’s just make this clear. Evan hardly ever would want to go for a leisurely walk. Yet, with this game, I had a hard time keeping up as he neared the Pokemon stop.
We arrived at the Fletcher United Methodist Church. Call it divine intervention, but a church is a great place to have Pokemon waiting for us. It was there we walked to the parking lot to “catch” whatever was waiting for us in the game. We also ran into a few of Evan’s 4-H members and stopped to talk to them for a bit. The kids talked about the game for about 10 minutes. It sounded Greek to me.
All in all, we walked 1.8 miles that evening in search of Pokemon. The most surprising part? Evan did not utter one complaint during the hunt.
For years, our generation has been criticized for cooping ourselves up indoors, playing video games with people we will never meet and hiding behind screens instead of interacting with the real world.
Through this silly game, I got my kid to walk almost 2 miles without so much as a whimper.
He chatted non-stop about this Pokemon world that I know nothing about. Did I have to remind him to pay attention as he crossed the road? Yes, but I also got a 12-year-old boy to get outside and hang out with his mom for more than an hour. I’ll take that time anyway I can get it.
So thank you Pokemon Go for getting all of us outside, trekking through our neighborhoods and giving us something to distract us from the real world of Trumps, Clintons and other world-wide tragedies.
If someone could tell me how to place a Pokemon in the sheep barn, please contact me immediately.
“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. She may not understand this Pokemon thing, but she’s a master at MarioKart.