This Post is Late Because I've Been out All Night Chasing Digital Creatures Through Real Streets

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I've never finished a Pokemon game. I've never played more than an hour of any Pokemon game out there. I am, by all accounts, a Poke-novice. I've read all about the games and watched Wesley play through game after game, but I've never dedicated any of my time to the pursuit of Pokemon. Last week that all changed. Pokemon Go has brought me fully into the fold and though I know there is a serious difference between what I am playing and the other games in the series, I couldn't care any less. Pokemon Go has, so far, brought me closer to my community and gotten me up off my ass more than anything else has in the past three years.

I won't waste time explaining the way that Pokemon Go works because you've likely seen or played it already. It has absolutely taken over the mobile world. Nothing else can hold a candle to it at the moment, with its user base nearly exceeding that of Twitter in the US. Chasing little monsters throughout town is apparently bigger than anything else at the moment. I've seen people posting pictures of the groups that have come together around a single lure and the huge number of Pokemon, stops and gyms in larger cities, and I am very pleased that even my small town has a very lively community of players and a relatively large number of stops and gyms across town.

I installed Pokemon Go as soon as it was made available, fully expecting to write an article about how little I enjoyed the experience despite how much other seemed to like it. Within two hours, I found myself wandering the apartment complex barefoot, trying desperately to track down an Omanyte. The next night we ended up wandering the neighborhood with a neighbor before heading downtown to walk the streets in pajamas, battling Pokemon at gyms around town.

The AR view drains your battery quite a bit more, but put the Pokemon in the real environment.
Since those first couple days we've fallen into more of a routine. Wesley and I make coffee in the morning and walk down to our closest couple pokestops then back home. Later in the afternoon and evening we head downtown and walk around for a few hours to grab supplies, catch a few Pokemon and meet a few new trainers. I took a little time to go through the data on my phone and the results are absolutely astounding. From June 30th to July 5th, I walked an average of 1.6 miles a day for a total of 9 miles for that span of time. From July 6th, the release day of Pokemon Go til today, July 12th, I have walked an average of 6 miles a day for a total of 37.8 miles. That leap in activity is astounding. I thought I was doing well before I started playing Go, but I feel like a bit of a chump looking at the actual data now. I have increased my daily activity by 275% since the release of Pokemon Go. It would be stupid of me to deny that this game has done a great deal for me.

We've come a long, long way from Pokemon Blue.
And yet, I encounter people that don't think it is at all possible. Surely no one could be more active because of a video game. That would be silly, right? Well, no it isn't silly. The benefits to my physical health are just one facet of the benefits I have gained from this one little game. In the past six days, I have met more people and had more conversations with strangers than I have had since PAX Prime last year. Meeting up with other trainers at a lure is an awesome thing. I have felt far more connected with my community as a result and really love the feeling of camaraderie I have felt, even with people who didn't join Team Mystic (the only real choice, am I right?).

I have started looking into the purchase of yet another 2DS, for myself this time so I can play some of the older games, but I've been having such a blast wandering around town at all hours of the day that I am unsure if I want my Pokemon experience to include anything other than this. Games are at their best when they bring us together. Nothing in recent memory has done a better job of that than Pokemon Go. I hope that Niantic and Nintendo are enjoying the success they have so deservedly earned from the release of this game. I have never been so happy to be on my feet for so much of the day.