Yes, children, I am still playing Pokémon Go.
Yes, I know it was released in July. And I know many of you have moved on to Pokémon Sun and Moon or whatever it is that’s been released since, but I’m still here. I’m old. I don’t handle change well.
I never watched the original Pokémon series, and I never played the original Pokémon games, but I have found Pokémon Go is ideal for someone who used to game but who now has a small child. Seriously. It’s like Niantic Labs designed it with middle-aged, work-at-home mothers of two-year-olds in mind.
Sorry if your stock went down there, Niantic Labs, but it’s true. I can think of at least seven reasons why:
- It keeps me in touch with my gamer roots. Recently I told a friend of mine that I was playing Pokémon Go and he gave me that pitying look serious gamers give to casual ones. It stung a little — I miss gaming a lot, and I know well the stigma of being a casual gamer. But that’s kind of where I am now. A full schedule, a tight budget, and an addictive personality means I don’t have time or money for gaming or consoles right now. Pokémon Go is like gaming lite, which works for me.
- It makes me exercise. Despite the fact that both the dog and I need to walk regularly, exercise is the first thing that tends to fall by the wayside. It’s hard to want to drop everything and go for a walk in the cold. Pokémon Go makes that task something I actually look forward to. I mean, Bulbasaur needs his candy, right?
- I get out of the house more. I’m at work-at-home mom, so unless there are specific errands that need to be run, I spend a lot of time in the house. But because I live more than a mile from the nearest Pokéstop, the need to get out and pick up more Pokéballs is extra motivation to dress up like a human and visit civilization.
- Errands are more fun. Look. No one likes the grocery store. But Pokémon Go does make it more tolerable. Now I can go to the grocery store and collect Rattata, (for the uninitiated, those are misleadingly delicious names for the Pokémon universe’s version of rats). And when my son gets bored in the produce section? He can play along.
- It keeps small children entertained. There is nothing like a Weeble evolution to keep my kid entertained in the checkout line. My two-year-old is a little young to be playing Pokémon Go on his own, but he helps me catch the first Pokémon of the day at breakfast, and goes for walks with me to catch Pidgey, and loves a good evolution. He yells “go team” whenever we catch anything. It’s his second-favorite thing to do with my phone. (The first is arguing with Siri.) Obviously, I can’t play it with him all the time — looking at your phone all the time isn’t conducive to keeping an eye on a toddler* — but sometimes it’s a perfect little activity we can do quickly together.
- It’s the healthiest girls’ outing ever. Once I got together with my friends for cocktails and late nights. Now I go for daytime Pokéwalks with a friend. We are the only two grown women playing this game in a town full of middle-school-aged trainers — we catch a bunch of Venonats and hit the local Pokéstops while all the other trainers are still in school.
- There are always things to look forward to. After a long stagnant period, Pokemón Go‘s Halloween update made the game more rewarding, as did bonuses on Thanksgiving and daily bonuses. The rumors swirling around December’s possible updates (new Pokémon? Player-to-player battles? Trading? A tracker that works? More Evee evolutions?) are little things to look forward to that don’t involve holiday stress, political arguments, or having to get my shopping done.
* Niantic, why oh why did you have to place gyms at playgrounds? That’s just mean.