Kids Of All Ages Are Coming Together To Catch ‘Em All
“There are PokéStops nearby.”
“Cool, let me find someplace to park and we can hit a few before we head home.”
-Conversations with my kid, 2016
While I’ve been a gamer as long as I can remember, I’ve only been a parent for 8 years now. I doubt my kid fully appreciates how cool it is to have parents who play and understand games, but occasionally I find us bonding over unexpected things. Currently, imaginary pocket monsters on my phone.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, you are probably aware by now that Pokémon Go is kind of a big deal. Both iOS and Android versions of the app report staggering download numbers, with Pokémon Go expected to surpass Twitter for active users.
I valiantly resisted the urge to join in for the first few days. Most of my Pokémon nostalgia stems from the cartoons, not the actual games. Once social media erupted with posts and photos of people finding Pokémon all around them, I finally broke and hit the download button.
Logically, Pokémon Go shouldn’t be as addictive as it is. The app itself does little to explain how the system works. The few explanations provided are frustratingly vague and server issues mean you’re often ready to quit before you really get underway. Right up until you catch your first non-starter Pokémon, when suddenly, you realize you’re hooked.
There is just something exciting about spotting a hidden Pokémon in the wild. I knew from my time playing Niantic’s other augmented reality game, Ingress, that wandering around town glaring at my phone would draw a few stares. Who just goes for a walk anymore? Psychos?
Luckily it didn’t take much to convince my kid to accompany me on my quest. It took even less for it to become our quest. While running errands it just made sense to hand my phone over while I drove. I told him he’d have to act fast when he saw a Pokémon. He caught three on our way to my mom’s house.
Turns out, I remembered way more about Pokémon than I’d expected. I taught my kiddo to identify the random silhouettes that popped up in the “nearby” screen. He worked out how to flick the Pokéballs more accurately.
I had family visiting from out of town and once I explained why we were pacing the driveway, they downloaded the app as well. This is another strong point for Pokémon Go, it might not be easy to figure out, but it’s still easy to play. Both older and younger trainers can easily get into the action, even if they don’t fully grasp what they are doing. My kid quickly became the go-to Pokémon tracker. He would borrow whoever’s phone wasn’t currently charging and use it to hunt down the influx of Rattata’s.
It’s funny to think that my nostalgia is fueling his newfound interest in Pokémon. This is probably one of the reason’s Pokémon Go has already been so successful. It brings new and old trainers out to the same playing field. Whether you’re just casually collecting some of your old favorites, or building a team strong enough to hold down a gym you’re likely to encounter other players on their own Pokémon adventures.
Being able to share something that I enjoyed when I was younger with my own child is awesome. Especially, since it has evolved with the times. Instead of trying to push something that was fun way back in my day, we get to share something that’s fun right now.
Speaking of which, the dog could probably use a walk, and kiddo and I suspect there may be a Squirtle living at the park. Better go investigate.