Catching Pokemon in the real world brought childhood dreams to life.
I am what you might call a member of the Pokémon generation. I played Pokémon Red on Gameboy Color, I collected the cards, and I definitely watched the television shows and spent what little money I had on checking out the movies. So when plans for Pokémon Go were released by Niantic, I was all in to play. I spent hours hunting for Pokémon, walking miles along the way, and exploring my neighborhood in a way I never had before. I also happened to learn a few things in the process.
It was awesome
I actually got started a few days late, since Pokémon Go premiered while I was camping on top of a mountain that had no internet access. As soon as I got home, I took a quick walk with my dog around the block and got way too excited. In 15 minutes I'd caught a Psyduck, an Eevee, and a handful of Pidgeys and Rattatas.
It's such a small, silly, little thing, to take a walk and see pocket monsters pop up on your phone screen. I may have actually squealed out loud the first time that my favorite Pokemon — Vulpix — popped up for me to capture. This wasn't just true for existing Pokémon fans like me. My mother was playing, her mother-in-law was playing, and everyone was having an absolutely amazing time. The sheer amount of people who were playing turned this game into an amazing experience that brought camaraderie to thousands of people worldwide. I know i wasn't the only one who felt this way either.
I found so much
One of the coolest parts for me was finding so many neat places around my neighborhood and my city. PokéStops were set up at a variety of places from schools and post offices to art installations. I live just south of Baltimore, and while it gets a bad rap for a lot of things, there are some amazing art installations in the city.
I spent a full day wandering around with my phone, a portable battery, and tons of places to explore. From beautiful murals that stole my breath away to a tiny little café tucked into a corner. While Pokémon Go definitely got me out of the house and exploring my surroundings for the first time, it did more than just that. It got me looking up from my phone to take in everything around me happily. I'd never noticed just how much of the world I was missing and more to the point, how much was tucked into my little suburban neighborhood.
It was totally worth it
While there were definitely some issues that I found with Pokémon Go — namely the relative dearth of interesting catches near to home — overall it was an absolutely amazing experience. I walked more than I have since I got hooked on Run, Zombies, and I got so many ridiculous memories from it. I met neighbors while playing at a local playground, and going to venues with multiple PokéStops meant I ran into literally dozens of other Pokémon Go players.
When the weather turned cold and the teams became more entrenched in the territories they controlled, I slowly stopped playing so much. There's every chance that when the weather warms back up I'll boot the app back up and enjoy it anew, but I doubt the massive outpouring of players will ever return. Even if the craze only lasted a few short months, I had more fun with an app than I have ever had before, and it was totally worth every moment of a dying battery or my feet hurting after a 4-mile hike.
Are you still playing?
Have you been playing Pokémon Go through the winter? Has the novelty worn off? Will you play again when things warm up? Let us know in the comments below!