I have long been interested, casually, in Pokemon. I’ve never gotten too involved in it, preferring instead to treat it in the same way I treat instructions that come with flatpack IKEA furniture: which is to say ignoring them and doing what looks right. With Pokemon, it’s more about ignoring all the pre-written backstory and making things up on my own. This is a tactic I use rather broadly when life gets a bit dull or doesn’t function as I’d like. Yes, fiction is my solution to most life problems. It’s not effective most of the time, but it is entertaining.
Some of my colleagues at work have the Pokemon Go on their phones, and I was of course, quite intrigued. I say this as a woman who keeps a pet piñata under her desk. I was shown the lovely little monsters and how they appeared and they looked quite appealing. All big eyes and rosy cheeks doing something slightly mischievous. I knew that I would love the game if I got it.
Which brought me to my next thought which was if I am that interested in something, it’s probably not a good idea. For me, things that I think I’m going to like that intensely tend to be expensive and a bit of a waste of time. I mean, I’m already easily distracted and the idea that I could just look at my phone and be transported to an imaginary world where I’m training or hunting Pokemon is infinitely more appealing that whatever I’m meant to be doing at the office. And when I’m not in the office, I’m meant to be editing my book which is coming out in the spring so really, needs my full and undivided attention. I don’t think my publisher would be best pleased if I said, “Oh sorry, I didn’t get the edits done on time but I did catch 100 Pokemon!” I don’t think he’d be happy.
There’s also the point to be made about the fact that playing this game is going to eat up my meagre data allowance and I’ll wind up spending hundreds of pounds chasing imaginary creatures. And let’s face it, I can do that on my own for free. What’s to stop me from making my own creatures to catch? Nothing. Nothing at all.
There have been many column inches devoted to Pokemon Go in the past few days, and one reason people are saying it’s great is that it gets people outside, and talking to one another. I mentioned this to The Mom and was met with unexpected reproach:
“Pfft. Kids these days need a game to get them to go outside? Ridiculous.”
“Yeah, but, they’re going outside,” I said.
“No they’re not.”
“Yes, they are,” I replied. “There’s a group of people I saw on Facebook at the university near you. They’re all outside. Look, there’s trees and grass and everything.”
“It doesn’t count. They’re still staring at their screens.”
“Yes, but they’re doing it outside,” I pointed out.
“But they’re not looking at the outside. They’re not enjoying it. They’re getting hit by cars for crying out loud!”
“Well, I didn’t say it’s made people less stupid.”
“Good job you didn’t, because that’s impossible to substantiate. It’s probably making them more stupid. What next? People arriving for a job interview and interrupting the CEO to catch a Pokemon?”
“Yes, well probably, but I think those people were probably a bit thick to start with.”
“This is the problem with people. They think computers are going to make everything better. You kids used to love being kicked out of the house everyday, roaming the streets in a big pack, running through back yards, chasing things, dogs, old people, whomever. You’d come home exhausted, covered in mud, full of tales of adventure.”
“This is what’s happening with Pokemon Go!”
The Mom scowled. “There is something truly wrong with people if they can’t just go and be outside. Look at the birds, catch a frog, play in the creek.”
It was clear I was not going to win her over. So I gave up arguing about it. But wait until I rock up at home – I wasn’t planning on getting the game, but now I’m reconsidering. I think if she plays it herself she might have a different opinion. Though, equally, she might just take my phone away from me and refuse to give it back until ti’s time for me to go back to the airport.