Pop Culture

Pokemon Go Is the New Phone Game That Guarantees You’ll Never See Your Kids’ Eyes Again

By  | 

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.22.57 PM

(Via Pokemon Go)

Angry Birds who? Neko Atsume what? Cell phone games come and go, and few come with as big of a splash as the new Pokemon Go game that has taken over my entire Facebook feed since it debuted yesterday.

Pokemon Go is a pretty brilliant game, even though I haven’t really been able to get in and play myself, because I just have a dodgy old iPad with no cellular service, and the system has been too crowded for me to get in for more than a minute or two at a time. But from what I’ve seen of my gleeful friends on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, this game is brilliant and it’s eating people’s lives.

The thing that makes Pokemon Go so smart is that it’s a real-world Pokemon-hunting game. To move your character, you actually have to get out of your chair and walk places to find Pokemon, items, and gyms. The game uses your camera to let you hunt Pokemon in real-world places.  I tried to get a picture of a Charmander in my sink, but my photos are too grainy, so here is a Jigglypuff on my friend’s bed:

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.16.21 PM

(Via Instagram/Yayahan)

That’s so awesome. In fact, it’s so cool that it’s actually encouraging people to get up and go outside. 

“I wasn’t going to work out today,” one of my friends just posted to Facebook. “But I just walked four miles looking for Pokemon.”

This also gives it a strong social media element, because it took no time at all for people to start posting photos of themselves hanging out with Pokemon in the street, and finding Pokemon in their beds. The game also encourages you to go check out shops, statues, and other interesting places, because there are gyms or Pokemon points there. (There’s an aquarium supply store near my house, and I’ve never been in there in 36 years, but now it has a glowing blue Pokemon dot over it, so I’m going to go visit tomorrow, because I bet there are water Pokemon in there.)

Another friend just posted to Facebook that her teenage son got up this morning, ate breakfast, and announced that he was going for a walk. I think Pokemon may have successfully turned “going out and getting some fresh air” into a fun game people actually want to play.

The only problem I have with this game is that it is not conducive to playing if you are the parent of a toddler. An infant or a reasonably sized child? Sure, that’d be perfect. If you have a bored kid on summer vacation, you could probably give her this game and she’d go out for a walk and not come back until September. In fact, I think I’d have gotten a lot of use out of this game when I had a newborn, because it would have given me a reason to get out of the house and look for Pokemon. I might have lost the baby weight a lot faster if I’d had Pokemon to hunt.

With a toddler, however, it seems to be a bit of a liability. I can’t look for Pokemon or go fight other Pokemon at gyms, because I have to watch the toddler. (She’s in a “Humpty Dumpty” phase, and her favorite hobby right now is finding things to climb and fling herself off of.) I can’t go looking for Pokemon with her in the stroller, because where a newborn would sleep the whole time, a toddler just goes, “Mommy no iPad! Out of stroller! Down!” And then it’s like, “Well shit, now I’m definitely going to be the subject of some old man’s Open Letter to the Millennial Mom Ignoring Her Kid on the Phone.”

So next time your kids show up insisting that they are bored, you can tell them to go hunt Pokemon. If your mom asks what the kids are  up to, they’re playing outside. Everyone wins.