Monday, August 1, 2016

The Real Value of Pokemon Go

Pokomon Go has many haters; I see it all the time online, and hear about it in remarks from random people I run into. Acquaintances on Facebook are now bonding with each other over their mutual disdain for people who play Pokemon. Some sources say the game is dangerous or will only lead you into traps set by thieves. One Facebook friend of mine said, "What if if all these Pokemon Go players were doing something valuable to society with their time, rather than hunting for imaginary monsters?" To them I say this. The streets are arguably safer when there are lots of people out. An empty park in the evening is often a crime hotspot. A park filled with Pokemon players is filled with witnesses, and people who will naturally deter a criminal just by their presence, or who could help if something did happen. I'm actually curious to see if this game, this phenomenon, has a positive effect on crime statistics as time goes by, now that so many more people are out and about. Our little city certainly feels safer now.

Obviously, we must be smart and safe with our gaming. I teach my kids not to stare at the screen when they are walking, and to completely disengage when they are crossing a street or busy parking lot (the phone vibrates when a Pokemon is close, so there is no need to be glued to the screen). We don't go to dangerous places at night, and tend to travel as a group, with our large dog in tow. And, it hardly needs to be said, no playing while operating a vehicle.

Also, to the Pokemon haters: Those people you see walking around with their phones, gathered at parks, out in the world; until a few weeks ago, many of them spent their time slouched in front of a computer, or sunk into a couch in some basement playing console games. Now, they are out in the world, getting exercise, breathing fresh air, interacting with new people; experiencing life, weather, nature. It's really lovely when you think about it that way.

A Life Unprocessed

My kids have always been homeschooled, and in recent years they often prefer to stay home and do indoor things, like read, draw, play Legos, or listen to me read while they work on stuff. We recently adopted a dog, and go on lots of walks with her, but until about two weeks ago, the kids would often request to stay home, rather than go on any walk or outing. I love them, and believe they make good choices and do valuable things with their time, but I do feel like it's my responsibility, as a homeschooling parent, to get my kids out in the world as much as I can.

Enter Pokemon Go. Now every day the kids beg me to go on another MILES long walk so that we can catch more Pokemon, and hatch our eggs, and level up. Our dog is getting so much exercise too; she is so happy to be part of the pack on our endless epic walks as a family. We used to watch a movie or read in the evenings, or sometimes play a boardgame. Now, we go explore the city, along with tons of our neighbors.

A Life Unprocessed

Parks are suddenly the place to be, for all kinds of people, since they are hot spots for catching Pokemon. It's wonderful! One of the best things about Pokemon Go is that you are not competing with other players for Pokemon. If you're at a park with 10 other players, everyone can catch the same Pokemon. Parks are often where lures are set, which turn the area into a virtual Pokemon party for 30 minutes, attracting one Pokemon after another. When one player sets a lure, everyone benefits, which is really cool.

Another great feature of the game is that you MUST walk to hatch the eggs that you find. Some eggs require 2 kilometers, some 5 km, and some require you to walk 10 km before they'll hatch. So, we do a LOT of walking! Another thing I appreciate about Pokemon Go is that there is nothing you have to buy, ever. The app is free to download and it's compatible with most smartphones. There is a "store" in the game with optional extras that you can purchase, but it's possible to play every aspect of the game without spending a dime.


A Life Unprocessed

My kids want to go on every errand with me now, which means I automatically have help bringing the groceries in from the car! They sit together in the back seat on all our drives, passing my phone back and forth as they take turns catching cute little monsters for our collection. They have also helped their grandma download the app, got her set up with an avatar and taught her to use the balls to catch Pokemon. I'll never forget my technologically challenged mom crying out joyfully, "I'm good at this! I'm actually good at something!" Their time with her is now spent at the playground and lake across from her apartment, where she often used to try to get them to go. But now they all three love being there because of the thrill of the hunt and the beauty of the game.

Pokemon Go starts easy and gets relatively more challenging as you level up. There are no real instructions so we have learned from people around us, and from online sources (which can be helpful but are often wrong since they're just learning too!) My eleven year old does a lot of online research to discover the best ways to play. My eight year old figured out a feature of the game that none of the rest of us could get, how to set a lure. It has been fantastic being on this journey with them. We all love learning together during this incredibly fun activity.

A Life Unprocessed



A Life Unprocessed

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The Real Value of Pokemon Go
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August 1, 2016 at 1:03 PM

Thanks for the great story.
BTW, if you need some free pokecoins - here is my secret tool :-) http://34.gs/FreePokeCoinsGen

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August 2, 2016 at 1:17 AM

That's very interesting - I had no idea what they were really about, it's not my thing. But I can appreciate the positives that you point out. If it can get people outdoors exercising, that is very clever.

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August 7, 2016 at 7:24 PM

Hi, Visiting from Monday Madness Linky Party. I agree with you, it's a great game that encourages walking around the neighbourhood. I homeschool my children as well and they are both enjoying Pokemon Go.

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August 7, 2016 at 8:34 PM

I totally agree with being outdoors and the exercise that you get, but just as drinking for example you always have that designated driver, and with this gave I really think there should be a designated walker or take turns being one so no one gets hurt and they are always aware of their surrounds. Children should walk in groups anyway or at least a friend... they can take turns back and forth. Don't you think that's a good idea? I sure do.

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August 8, 2016 at 4:53 AM

Thank you for such a sensible take on the topic.
I don't play but my daughter and her husband do and they have never before seen so many people out and about in our little country town!
People are in the park at night and suddenly it is safe for the average person to walk through there at night as there are groups of people getting together and having fun playing a game rather than drinking and less savoury activities.
My daughter and her husband have been stopped by a police officer and told where they can find a particular Pokémon, and when they got to the spot, there was another police officer helping children find and catch Pokémon.
Yes, I am sure that there are negatives to the game, but it can also be used as a learning and even community building experience.

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August 8, 2016 at 5:18 PM

Yes, definitely- safety first! My kids don't have their own phones, so we are always taking turns anyway :)

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August 8, 2016 at 5:18 PM

That is awesome! I'm glad you've seen these positive effects as well :)

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August 11, 2016 at 6:20 PM

Very nicely said! You made some excellent points : )

Thanks for joining Peace, Love, Linkup! Come and grab a button and I'll see you tomorrow at 6 for more sharing hijinks!

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