So when, as a reasonable and conscientious parent, I got wind of Pokemon Go it was on the back of one of the usual sensationalised stories from the middle-class media that I sometimes end up reading and listening to. ‘No chance, my lads are getting that game’, I said to myself.
Thankfully I changed my mind and opened myself to a whole lot more engagement and time spent with my two boys.
I hate the Daily Mail with a passion, so god knows why I paid any attention to its stories about Pokemon Go’ers falling under buses whilst playing the game, or walking into minefields, or ending up stumbling into pits full of snakes.
I once read a blog from a fellow Daily Mail hater who had painstakingly collected and recorded headlines from the paper about what ‘WILL KILL YOU’ and also ‘WHAT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE’. It was brilliant. The guy had found conflicting sensationalised headlines from the paper and had added links to the blog too, to prove his point.
The were conflicting headlines for stuff like the following:
‘Smoking WILL KILL YOU’ / ‘Smoking WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE’.
‘Wine WILL KILL YOU’ / ‘Wine WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.
Death WILL KILL YOU / Death WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.
The Daily Mail is truly full of shit! But like a muppet, I believed it.
Anyhow back to Pokemon Go.
It was Chris who asked if he could get the app about a week after it launched and at height of the hype and paranoia.
‘Nope’, I said.
‘Why not Dad?’
‘Cos you’ll be playing it, not paying attention and fall into a sea of piranhas’, I said.
‘Erm! We live in land-locked Huddersfield, without sea or piranhas’, my precocious twelve-year old replied.
He then added that I could go with him whilst he was playing it and ensure he didn’t fall into any quicksand.
In my head I was thinking…
But thankfully some filters were in place and it came out of my mouth as…
‘OK, let’s give it a trial’
The App was subsequently downloaded and off we Pokemon Go’d.
I’m writing this a month later.
We’re now Level 22 Pokemon Go Trainers. Yup, ‘Pokemon Trainers’, Not ‘Pokemon Go’ers’. Get us eh?
Our best Pokemon is a 1600 rated Golduck called ‘Quackers’. ‘What the duck’ I hear you all say!
We’ve hatched a load of Pokemon eggs between us.
We’ve evolved Pokemon after Pokemon, visited hundreds of Pokestops and battled stacks of gyms.
Words I’ve never said before have suddenly become part of our new language.
‘Magikarp’, ‘Pokeballs’, ‘Charmander’, ‘Golbat’, ‘Lickitung’
But much better than all of that (if that’s possible!)..my eldest and I are spending a load more time together.
And now we’re getting to why this seemingly random and unrelated story is sitting on a walking/hiking blog.
I usually end up going for a stroll in the evenings on my own. No way, previously, could I get either of my two away from their kindles/PCs/Netflixes/iPads during the weeks. I managed it now and again, with my youngest Alex usually volunteering under pressure (bribery). But now a question of whether they want to go Pokemon hunting is greeted with a resounding ‘YES’.
So I’m getting some exercise. The kids are getting some exercise. We’re spending time together and chatting about things other than ‘Pidgeys’ and ‘Squirtles’ as we walk. And they are getting up and out of the house. PERFECT!
The App recently told us we’d walked 100km of game time. In just over a month! Fantastic?
To be fair I do have to chaperone them quite closely as they could easily fall under a bus playing the game, but I’m on this planet to protect and look after them so I don’t give a flying fuck about that side of things. It actually makes me feel good and takes me back to being the fatherly/protective figure that you become less of as they grow older. And the other benefits far outweigh it anyhow.
I do think there’s an element of Darwinism about those poor unfortunates who end up following Pokemon’s into quicksand, or pulled into rip-tides trying to catch a Psyduck. They were never ever going to survive too long anyhow and Pokemon Go just sped things up.
Pokemon Go is absolutely genius. An addictive ‘collecting’ game combined with a ‘fight your friends’ concept that uses augmented reality and real-life maps and locations. ABSOLUTE GENIUS! Plus it get kids out from behind their laptops and Xboxes and into the great outdoors. When was the last time a App or computer game phenomena managed to do that? Never!
So, go get Pokemon Go for your kids. Spend more time with them. Get them out and about in the fresh air. But do watch them closely, remind them about being careful on the roads and watch out for the quicksand and piranhas!