In Defense of Pokémon Go

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pokemonI’ll start with a confession. We’re a couple weeks into this Pokémon Go craze, and I know next to nothing about it. Has my husband tried to explain it? Sure. Have my eyes glazed over 30 seconds into the explanation each time? You betcha. (If you have a heartier attention span than I do, this is, apparently, an excellent tutorial.)

Growing up, Pokémon was something everyone’s little brother played. (If only I knew just 10 miles away my husband was waking up at 6 a.m. every day to catch the show and skipping lunch to spend his money on new Pokémon cards.) But I was never interested. My husband played the predecessor game (Ingress), and I accompanied him on the long walks, but that was mostly to try out iced coffee or tacos in new neighborhoods we would explore. I had no idea how much Pokémon Go would alter our lives.

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You see, we now have a 2.5-year-old. And like most 2.5-year-olds, his top-ranking passions in life include animals, running around outside, time with the preferred parent (Daddy), and access to the ever-elusive screen time that his hippie-dippie mother so lovingly refuses him on the daily. So Pokémon Go is his new favorite game ever. He gets to play with Daddy! They catch turtles and seals and crabs and whatever a Jigglypuff is! All of these creatures can be found at his favorite place in the world — the park! And he GETS TO USE A PHONE to catch them. Pokémon Go is the total package.

Meanwhile, my husband can’t stop geeking out over how amazing it is to share childhood experiences with his son. I suppose other people might have this experience with playing catch, but, what can I say, I married a real nerd. My husband works long and crazy hours but came home from work early to “catch a Pokémon before bedtime” three nights last week and two so far this week. He’s always been a great and attentive father, but it’s actually transforming their relationship.

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Are there downsides? Sure. My husband can be a wee bit obsessive with games, so he’s been lurking local parks after bedtime as well with the other adult players. He swiped one of my son’s paint sticks to draw his team logo on a hat so other players could more easily find him. And he spent $80 on a new portable phone charger so they never have to stop playing.

But is it worth it? I say yes. Our local parks are humming as people from multiple generations hang out together and catch Pokémon. My husband and son are thrilled to have a shared hobby. And I’m certainly relishing all the alone time I’ve had the past few weeks while they search together for the elusive Squirtle or Pikachu.