Pokemon Go, we choose you! Or why we’re having a little too much fun with the latest augmented reality game

When I saw all the excitement around this new game called Pokemon Go, I was determined not to download it to my phone. If there’s anything I don’t need, it’s another reason to use a mobile device—or introduce my children to yet another game.
But I am intrigued by augmented reality, and I finally decided I had professional reasons at least to give it a whirl.
And it’s free. I’m big on free.
So I downloaded it and started hunting for Pokemon. And let’s just say I now understand why this craze is sweeping the nation—or at least the nation of children living in my house.

Basically, your phone tells you when a Pokemon is nearby, and you can try to capture it virtually on your phone screen by throwing an image of a Pokeball at the image of the Pokemon. And I really don’t know why that is so much fun, but it is.

By the time I got home from work, I had found a few Pokemon characters without trying very hard. I mentioned the game casually to our sons, who used to be huge Pokemon fans. They told me they had already been Pokemon hunting while walking to the playground with our sitter. As is so often the case with any game—card, board, or electronic—they were experts.

We went walking this evening to capture some, sticking very carefully to sidewalks as we explored our neighborhood.
Here’s what we have enjoyed so far:
  • When you find a Pokemon, it looks like this little creature is right next to you—and you can jump into a picture with it. This is especially exciting for me because my children don’t always want to pose for pictures. So maybe we have our Christmas card photo?
  • We found a Pokemon egg, but we have to walk 5 kilometers to see it hatch. We have a long way to go, but we are determined to get there.
  • We even found a few Pokemon characters without leaving our house—but that didn’t help us with getting that egg hatched.
  • We enjoyed a beautiful summer evening outside in our neighborhood, waving to neighbors and wondering when we would find our next Pokemon.

Toward the end of our evening Pokemon search, my younger son and I were walking home, and it was getting dark. We hadn’t seen a Pokemon in a while, so we were just walking and talking. Our little boy spotted a black cat, then a bunny, and then he saw a firefly.

He sprang to action, chasing it across the grass, scooping it into his hands, and trying to hold it gently. But it escaped. So he went after another. And then another.
Each time the firefly escaped. But he kept at it, even once we arrived home, dancing through our yard, hands held up to the sky, trying to reach the magical little fireflies. He never tired of catching them and watching them light up in his hands—then fly off into the dusk.

This Pokemon Go game is fun, and I know we’re going to enjoy it for a while longer before the novelty wears off.
But that firefly game? The one God created and children have enjoyed for centuries? That one is here to stay.

Also see:

Pokemon GO craze catches local churches by surprise

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.