I’ve posted on twitter that I’ve joined the throngs of Pokemon players. I know, I know, don’t curse me now, hear me out.
I knew the game designers from playing Ingress, and I’d played and watched all the Pokemon games and anime. I was looking forward to what it would entail. Except what I didn’t see was the amount of negativity towards it.
You’ve seen the articles. “Girl finds body while playing Pokemon Go.” “Man kills brother over Pokemon.” I hate to be the one to tell you but the articles, most of them, are fake. I don’t know why the media is perpetrating fake news stories to make the general populace hate the game; but they are.
I’m not interested in why.
I’m interested in the overwhelming happy feeling a family had that I got to be a part of, because of Pokemon Go.
So I was walking in the early evening on my Pokemon Go route. It’s about 5 kms (perfect for eggs) and helps me think as I walk past a gym, two pokestops and a lake (oh yes, I love the magikarp!). And I’ve been playing the game since it came out, so I know what I’m doing.
But a car had pulled up near my pokestops and a couple with an eight year old girl were holding a phone and walking around.
I’ve become familiar with this scene; eyes on the phone, checking locations, moving as a group together. Pokemon players are recognising each other, and it’s with joy.
“Hi! Are you looking for Pokemon stops?” I called.
“Yes, we’re new, our daughter just sighted up an hour ago.” Says her father.
“Oh really? Well the other stop you are looking for is half way along the bridge.”
“Thank you!” The mother and daughter run off and the father stops me.
“So you play this game?”
“Yes, I’ve been playing since it came out about five weeks ago or so, I guess.”
“So you know what you’re doing?”
“Yes, I know the company. I liked the other game they made, Ingress, and I’ve played old school Pokemon and watched the anime series.”
There were more questions, how I liked it, what it was about, how many kilometers I’d walked (nearly a 100, over 5 every day at least).
“You walk around?”
“You have to, it’s part of the game. I walk five k’s every day at least to hatch eggs.”
“Hey honey!” He says to his returning wife and daughter. “This girl plays every day, and walks five kilometers, every day!”
“That’s so good! I need to do that.”
“It gets me away from the computer, I’m an avid gamer.” I explain.
“That’s so good, getting you out and about.”
That’s what’s good, but the people I’ve met and the stories I could tell you show you that the articles in the news about the game and being negative don’t tell you the other part of the story. The time a group of kids in my village green offered hot chocolate to pokemon trainers, and young kids and older players with their grandkids got hot chocolate and shared moments. About how a young woman was anxious about a pokemon and when I pointed her in the right direction she ran up and screamed I was her new best friend and I didn’t know how happy I’d made her by helping. I spend ten minutes explaining to an eight year old girl who was level one how it all worked.
The girl listened to my comments, wow’d at the pokemon I’d collected, and was delightful to talk to. And her parents stood behind her and asked questions too, engaged with me and the game that had gotten them all hooked. And so it was I said that if they are just starting out they needed to try the village green, as long as her parents were OK with it, but they were just smiling at me, happy for their daughter.
“Well that’s where we will go next!” The dad declared, and they thanked me and ran back to their car, taking off for the village green.
And afterwards, walking home, I was hopeful.
You see, I had received a fair amount of flack from colleagues and friends for my addiction, even my husband and he plays himself. Why was that?
My husband thought I was cute, but most others thought me crazy chasing imaginary things.
And it made me angry. Very angry.
I chase imaginary things every day. I get lost in them and then I write about them, but that wasn’t what had upset me. Being told what you want isn’t normal kills dreams.
People like this kill dreams every day; I can’t see what you see, and I don’t understand it, and therefore you shouldn’t have it.
And the part that hurts the most isn’t about a game that augments reality. People tell you you can’t really be an artist, a writer, a musician. They kill your dreams every day because they want you to be productive to society and fit in.
I’ve never sworn on my blog and I’m going to start now. Fuck fitting in. Fuck someone else’s version of normality and what they expect of me.
I want more parents like the one that little girl has, who followed her around and encouraged her in something that’s been sensationalised, they ignored the hype part and enjoyed being outside chasing their imagination. I’m for the ones chasing their imagination. I’m for the dreamers.