I vividly remember a few things from when I first started Pokemon Go. Sitting in my mother-in-law’s living room, not wanting to wait any longer, I changed the region on my iPhone so I could download the game before it was officially launched in the UK (shhh, don’t tell anyone). I then caught the Bulbasaur under the stairs and my journey officially began.
Pokemon Go took the world by storm in the following months. Friends who have shown no interest in Pokemon since they handed over their now very precious Pokemon cards 25 years ago and watched Charizard with me during their lunch breaks. It was great, but with Pokemon Go in 2016 I did what I do with anything I like. As I began to enjoy it, it dawned on me that eventually my friends would lose interest and so would I.
That day has finally arrived, and even though I return to Pokemon Go once or twice a year for about a month, I’m very much off the wagon. Or at least I was. I’ve been playing Pokemon Go again for the past few weeks, and I’m just as excited, if not more, than I was that long, glorious summer when everyone on the planet played it, and that’s because I’m not responsible. My three-year-old son is.
My son is very into Pokemons. I tried to be very conscious of not impressing my taste and personality on him, but when playing Pokemon games is part of your job and your little one watches you play them, chances are they’ll get pretty invested quickly. . It started with the stuffed animals he received as a gift, and after he found out that these stuffed animals came to life and could be caught while watching me play Pokemon Violet, he was all for it.
After finishing Pokemon Violet and wanting more, it dawned on me that there was a game that put Pokemon in the real world. A game that we can play together when we’re out and about and it helps me not feel as guilty as I do when I’m sitting with my son staring at a screen indoors. Yeah, I know he’s still looking at the screen, but he’s outside so it’s better, it’s just science. I waited a while because I wanted to make sure he could pick up my phone and play it effectively on his own, but when I finally introduced him to Pokemon Go, the results were predictably underwhelming.
I showed him the screen and he immediately spotted Weedle, a Pokemon he knew after catching it in Pokemon Smile a few days earlier. Yes, that’s a game too, but you’re trying to get a kid to brush his teeth twice a day without promising a Pokemon to catch at the end. I explained to him that Weedle was in the park across from our house, at which point he sprinted to the window, hoping to see the Pokemon for himself. Like I said, wonderful. A conversation ensued where they explained that they were on the phone but we needed to go out and find them and then we went out to capture Weedle.
Handing over control of your Pokemon Go account to a three-year-old was intimidating at first. I looked over his shoulder as he tossed Ultra Balls off the screen as he adjusted to the game mechanics. Once I got over it and got past that, I fell back in love with Pokemon Go. He had to be shown how to throw the balls a few times, but the first ball he threw that hit a Pokemon led to another one of those super cute moments. He celebrated much like I did when I finally beat the Elite Four for the first time decades ago in Pokemon Blue. Damn, I’m old.
After quickly moving past the items I had accumulated since my last return to the game being thrown left and right, I began to enjoy it almost as much as my son. Every new Pokemon he found was something he’d never seen before, causing an excited squeal every 60 seconds or so. I didn’t care that he spent it all because, well, that’s his game now. Just looking. If he tried to use a Master Ball on his tail, like a co-coach’s kid did recently, I might jump in, but other than that, I’m just going along for the ride.
Well, technically I’m a little more than a passive fan of my son’s Pokemon Go work. Although his Pokeball throwing ability has improved greatly, it is still not perfect. Combine that with his desire to catch every single Pokemon he comes across, and those Pokeballs and Berries run out pretty quickly. This is where I come in. At the end of each day, I rotate PokeStops while walking the dog, collecting the free daily box and ticking off all the research it has completed on its journey. So there are items waiting for him the next time he plays.
If his interest in the game lasts longer than mine, I guess there will come a time when he learns to have a conscience and do it all for himself. There may even come a time when he wants his own account so he can start from scratch. If that time comes, they will give me my account back and I will have to decide what I want to do with it. I might watch from the stands for so long I’ll want to go back. Maybe I’ll get so used to watching my son play that I’ll continue to do so when he starts his journey. Knowing how little kids get over time, I have a sneaking suspicion that if he’s still playing at a certain age, the last thing he’d want is for his dad to be looking over his shoulder and asking him why he’s not using all that candy Gastly to develop his Haunter.
NEXT: A whole new generation will discover the Arkham Knight Batmobile