Whenever something gets wildly popular very suddenly, people tend to get burned out and start to hate. Maybe it’s cupcakes, or Garden State, or shoulder pads. With Pokemon Go, the effect was almost immediate: people were either way into it or they believed it was the downfall of everything good in the world. The question, repeated by smug people everywhere, was:
Why are a bunch of grown-ass adults obsessed with a stupid, glitchy game about catching fictional animals?
Hmmm… Isn’t ranking the worth of what people do with their leisure time — in a world where Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a very successful television program — a slippery ass slope? Besides, like any activity, the way you engage with Pokemon Go is different for everyone. If we’re going to ask why people are “obsessed,” we have to also ask what part of the game people are actually obsessed with. For me, it’s certainly not the “gameplay” — it’s the fact that Pokemon forces me to interact with the world around me.
This might sound crazy, and leave me open to lots of snark, but in just a few weeks, Pokemon has completely changed the way I view my community in Richmond, Virginia. See, I work from home. And on top of that, I have clinical depression. So sometimes I stay inside for weeks and only leave the house to go to the grocery store… if that. The lust for adventure I once had has been missing for a long time: squashed by lack of funds and lack of time. Then comes this game — which creates enough nostalgia in me to pique my interest — and it’s free. Sure, you can pay for extra things, but it’s not like the game is unplayable without spending money. I personally haven’t spent a dime yet. So far, I’ve beaten a couple of gyms. I’ve got about 66 Pokemon in my Pokedex. But honestly, that’s not even the point. Not by a long shot.
I’ve discovered an entire new world while playing this silly, stupid, over-hyped game.