Surprising ways that Pokémon GO has impacted my life

The date is Sunday, July 17th, 2016, and the time is 4:30 PM. I’d been waiting all week to hear any news of the official Canadian release of Pokémon GO, having decided to wait for official release rather than download the APK file. I’m hanging out in the kitchen at work and I decide to take a peek in the App Store, as I hadn’t all day. I type “pokemon go” into the search bar and I’m shocked when I’m met with the legitimate game as the first result. All week, I’d had fake duplicates staring back at me. My excitement was probably a little unreasonable for a 30-year old mom.

I’m not going to lie: I’ve been waiting basically my entire life for Pokémon GO. My love for Pokémon in general hasn’t wavered since I discovered it in grade 7. There was a brief period in my life in which I treated Pokémon Diamond as though it was my full-time job. In short: I love Pokémon.

As a mom to a very busy toddler, I don’t really get many chances to play video games. That makes me a little sad sometimes, as I do truly love gaming and have a lot of feelings about video games in general. Pokémon GO shone in the distance like a beacon of light in my dark, stagnant gaming life. Finally: a game I could play while out with my daughter. There was nothing I couldn’t love about this. It was perfect for me. And it still is, 2 and a half months later. So, here are some ways that Pokémon GO has impacted me.

I’m looking at my phone far less (and therefore using less data)

This is the one that surprised me the most. I thought I would be using my phone more. Before GO, I would often open up my phone and browse through Facebook while out on walks, checking my notifications and sometimes making posts. Not only has GO forced me to be more aware of my data usage, but it’s kicked Facebook off my data usage list altogether, along with the similarly high-cost Snapchat.

I’ve been more productive

With my mind away from my phone, I’ve been free to think of other things, and those thoughts have wandered back into the creative realm after a bit of a pause. Walking gets my creative juices flowing, too. Because of these things, and because of PoGO’s ease of use, I’ve been thinking more about what I can write while I’m out for a walk. I am attributing my recent resurgence in posting on this blog to that. I really am!

I’m exercising more

Don’t get me wrong: I usually do exercise quite a bit and I feel I lead a fairly active lifestyle. Nonetheless, I have found that GO has gotten me up and motivated on several occasions–particularly if I have an egg that’s close to hatching.

I’m bonding with strangers and friends in new ways

Within the first few days of playing the game, I ran into a couple of teenage boys who both had their phones out. Since you can usually tell who is playing by a glance, they called out to me “Pokémon GO?”. We high-fived in passing, then I proceeded to utterly fail at taking their gym from them. My point is this: I would never have interacted with these guys on a normal day. I rarely interact with people I know if I can help it, let alone strangers. I have gone on 2 AM Poké-hunts with co-workers and ridden in a car alongside a friend in PJs, and have simultaneously done a hostile takeover of gyms in Albert County with my friend while he was on his delivery route (Team Mystic for life). PoGO has led to some amusing and often impromptu social situations. For someone who resists spontaneity, this has been a refreshing change of pace.

It has diversified daily outings with my daughter, and we’ve had some unique family outings

Knowing that Centennial Park was a nest for Machops was reason enough to go, but the fact that the park also housed a sizeable playground and splash pad certainly helped. All of these components combined made for a fun afternoon one hot and sunny Saturday. Before Pokémon GO, I wouldn’t have considered taking my toddler to Fort Beauséjour in Aulac, either, but on Labour Day, that was exactly what we did. We discovered that, inside the museum, there is a lovely little station set up for kids to play with brightly coloured blocks and other toys. Amelia sat there for 45 minutes–45 minutes!–and played with all of these toys while Brad and I took turns exploring the museum. Then we let her run around the grounds outside while we caught all kinds of Pokémon. To add, seeing the amount of people hanging out at the Fort during business hours was refreshing, and the museum staff were even joking with players.

I love this app. I don’t care if it sounds silly. I love the moments of anticipation leading up to an egg hatching. I love seeing a grey shadow appearing on my radar. I love the thrill I get when I see pink petals drifting down on a PokéStop. Most of all: I love that this game fits perfectly into my lifestyle. It’s not just me–GO has helped others in different ways, as well.

At its core, it’s a real-world MMO, with Pokémon. I’ll be playing Pokémon GO for a long time to come, glitches and all.

 

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