Confession time. I am afraid of Pokemon.
Let me start by telling you my Pokemon history.
The Gameboy was bestowed on The Big Guy when he was not so big. Like he was seven. I will never ever ever never ever ever forget that day.
The batteries were in the handheld, the cartridge was in the slot, it was powered up. And then–cue the sad trambone–nothing.
Well, not actually nothing. We were introduced to Professor Willow. And we (the playa) was supposed to do something. But I watched and “guided” the Big Guy around the house, along the left-right, up-down grid in the room.
We couldn’t get out of the house. The Big Guy would position himself on the mat, at the doorway out of the room and proceed to walk into the door. To absolutely no effect. Keep pressing that key forward and keep seeing that that poor Ash would never get out of his effing parent’s house.
My response? Looking at the tools available, I said, “Throw a potion at it.”
That was all I had. Throw a potion at the door. Maybe it would open. But it never did. And my seven-year-old learned on that very day that I had no friggin idea. This didn’t have had to be brought to his attention at such a tender age. I’m just saying.
Somehow, he managed to get out of the house, despite my lousy admonitions, and go forth and capture and train many a Pokeman. He might not have caught them all, but between red, blue, yellow, silver and gold, ruby and sapphire, diamond and pearl, many pocket monsters were captured and tamed. There was more than one device employed over the years, too.
There was that day when I was driving the minivan from school to soccer or from soccer to school or maybe from school to soccer to grocery store to home. Where is less important than what. There was a constant, perhaps incessant, chatter from the back seat about Pokeman. Like all about it. I was listening intently, to understand and to respond, but in all honesty it had been going on constantly. For hours. I could do no more.
“Sweetie,” I said with more pleading in my voice than I intended, “Doc can’t listen about Pokemon any more right now. So you can still talk, but I can’t listen.”
He said, “Okay, Doc. Can I talk about it later?” I said yes.
To his great credit, two-hours later he asked, “Hey, Doc, can we talk about Pokemon now?” I once again said “yes,” from my freshened self. And I learned about the different types and the different levels and the evolutions. I asked the Big Guy to build me a matrix of the monsters. He learned what a matrix was and saw how he could display attributes–or data. I liked this. Alot.
Pokemon went to the wayside after the acquisition of the game systems attached to the TV. The crudeness of the gameplay made it much less interesting than Spyro the Dragon, and, eventually, and years later and very interestingly, John Marston.
Fast forward to today.
There is a just-released version of Pokeman for smart phones. It’s called Pokeman Go. It’s brilliant in that it takes the game outside of the console (in this case phone) and incorporates the location knowledge of the phone with the game. The game is the same silly, but it incorporates the silly outside the fourth wall. You can walk through your urban landscape via your phone and “see” wild Pokemon to catch with Poké Balls tossed with a flick of your finger on your phone.
That’s what scares me.
I am afraid to download the game because I will be one of the freaks “seeing” Pokeman behind the mailbox, next to street lamp and on the subway platform where I frantically swipe up and right and down to catch the monster as I watch the train pull away. Because I will become totally obsessed with catching them all.
NO! I will not join in. I will not be a cultist member of the game, because if I were to play, I would constantly be pulling my phone from pocket or purse, trying to catch them all. And, to be real, it is the least important thing I can do. There are dishes to wash and dogs to walk. In. Real. Life.
So, my phone becomes the portal between the real and the pretend world? And I can interact with a fantasy word while I am awake and while I am sober? Put the phone down on the table. Walk away. Walk slowly, but away.
Okay. I downloaded it. But I’m not going to play it. Okay. I chose Charmader. I know he’s the hardest to play. Must. Not. Play.