Opinion – Pokémon Go Is A Life-Changing Game
I never thought a game would alter my life, or more improbably, the lives of my family. Pokémon Go, the monster-collecting craze turning parks into places where people go to look at their phones, has opened our eyes to a new lifestyle filled with exploration and a ridiculous amount of time spent outdoors.
I’ve always been a sun-fearing gamer, but I never viewed myself as a creature of habit. I like going to new restaurants and have always been open-minded when confronted with new life opportunities (just not deep-sea diving – sharks are the purest form of evil). Even with a willingness to veer off of the beaten path from time to time, I'm seeing through Pokémon go just how set in stone some of my family’s habits are.
We go to the same coffee shop, buy groceries from the same market, play at the same parks, walk our dog on the same paths, drive to work on the same streets – so much of our life boils down to routine. While I can look at these things under a quizzical microscope now, I never once put any thought into them – and I don’t think most people do. There’s a comfort that comes with familiarity, and a lot of this comes from trying to be efficient with our time and money. Yes, it makes sense that I would take the quickest route to work. I did that for over 20 years.
But what if I didn’t? What if I veered off of the highway to stop at a park first, or bask in the sun next to a river for 20 minutes? Pokémon Go is taking me on these detours. It’s a routine-breaking game. It’s a life-changing game.
The hunt for Pokémon has unearthed dozens of new locations in Minnesota for my family, some of which are just miles from our house. Our exploration has introduced us to amazing hole-in-the-wall diners, beautiful parks, and people who are just as into the game we are.
On one expedition to find a Pikachu nest, I jokingly told my wife I felt like we were pirates looking for rare treasure. That analogy, as silly as it is, isn’t too far off of the mark. The treasure we’re seeking holds no real value, but we are using a map to find it, and have become quite adventurous in our pursuit.
After a downpour of rain, my family jumped into the car to explore Edenbrook Conservation Area, a place Pokémon trainers have denoted as a Charmander nest. We anticipated a nature walk, but didn’t prepare ourselves mentally (or physically) for the conservation’s muddy paths, swamps, and extensive amount of bugs. We thought about abandoning our quest early on, but ended up going for it, and had a blast slogging across the wet terrain. We both captured two Charmanders, and my daughter and dog embraced the rare opportunity to get muddy. They looked a bit like Grimers.
If not for this game, we never would have set foot in this wilderness. The crazy thing is, we weren’t alone in there; dozens of other Pokémon Go players were on the hunt. It was a cool thing to see.
We’re not letting the game take over our lives, but it is something we stay on top of each day. We have a few expeditions planned for the weekends ahead, and are wondering what we’ll do when winter arrives. We’ll definitely find new indoor areas to explore, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re decked out in snow gear at some point. We may even take a few more vacations to play the game, and more importantly, explore more of the world.
P.S. If anyone knows of the location of a Lapras nest, we’re eagerly waiting for that adventure to begin.
All new parks need to be fully tested before leaving