Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Pokemon Stay

Everybody's playing Pokemon Go. I got into it for a while, then got tired with the grind. Don't get me wrong, Pokemon has always had a grind aspect to it (lots of RPGs do), but the lack of interesting battles and the emphasis on finding multiples of the same Pokemon is tedious.

Watching some of my co-workers get into Pokemon for the first time, two decades after I first got into it, has me feeling nostalgic. The memories: playing Pokemon Red for hours on my new Game Boy color, getting up on Saturday mornings to watch and record the show on Fox Kids, getting my mom to bring us to O'Brien's 5 & 10 to buy new trading card packs, reciting the Pokemon rap during lunch at Catholic school, and finally, catching all 150 through trading with kids at summer camp, only to find that my ultimate reward is a certificate that can only be printed with a Game Boy Printer. That was where I left Pokemon.

And here I am twenty years later cursing Amazon for being out of the "New Nintendo 3DS XL," as I try to find some way to justify dropping $300 on a system I'll only use for 2-5 games tops, instead of paying off my credit card debt.

In the meanwhile I'm playing Pokemon Fire Red on a Gameboy Advance emulator because I can't not scratch the itch. I want to play Pokemon. Not Pokemon Go, but what a buddy and I are calling "Pokemon Stay," or what a coworker called "Hipster Pokemon." The real deal. It's great. I mean, it's exactly the same as it was twenty years ago, but I'm happy to look at it with fresh eyes.

The cool thing about Pokemon is that everybody in the world of Pokemon is on the same page. To live among the pokemon is a privilege. To catch them is a test of strength, will, and character. To train them is a cause of the highest honor. While Pokemon is a game, everybody in the world of Pokemon is serious about what they're doing. You can't walk a few feet without being called out and challenged to a fight. There's a ritual to it; you can't say no to a trainer battle, and you can't run away from a trainer battle. There's a singularity of purpose to the world that everybody shares. Questions like the economy, food, healthcare, and the quantum mechanics of Pokeballs are all waved away in the utopian pursuit to catch more pocket monsters.

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