Pokémon Go was released last week and it’s taken the world by storm. People my age, a generation plagued by the “go outside and play” line, finally feels compelled to go outside and live their nostalgia in a virtual reality with 151 creatures from Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow (also Green if you’re from Japan). This is how Nintendo broke into the mobile gaming market and they’ve done it masterfully.

This post is about Pokémon Go. I promise. It may not seem like it, but it is, trust me.

For those who don’t know, I am a part-time runner, full-time student. During my freshman year, I got a few runs in when I had time. Right before Spring Break, though, I was out on a run. I made it all the way around the perimeter of campus and as I was beginning the second circuit in front of the mall, I started feeling a sharp pain in my shins. I walked for a bit to try shaking it off. I started running again and as I made it in front of the tennis center, the sharp pain began a stabbing one.

Shin splints. Wonderful. That was just what I needed.

I had aspirations of running a half-marathon in my hometown in early June. This was late-February, so I figured I would give my legs some time to rest and then I could start working out again. Life had other plans.

Somehow, and don’t know how, I managed to pull my left quad. I walked with an obvious limp for the remainder of the semester. At its worst, it once took me seven minutes to walk from my dorm to the dining hall. The same walk takes me two minutes ordinarily. Running was out the question and I had to deregister from the half.

Now that I’m living on campus for my internship, I need something to do to pass time other than watch YouTube videos. I’ve been reading a lot of Harry Potter, though I’m on a small hiatus from Half-Blood Prince. Running is my favored activity, now that I’m healthy again. I get to leave my phone on my desk so I don’t have to worry about emails or text messages, then I put in my earbuds, set my MP3 player to Led Zeppelin, hit shuffle and I’m on my way.

I have a peculiar relationship with running. I love it, but my body hates it. It hurts my feet, my ankles, and my knees. But the peculiar part is that when I’m not running, I hate not running more than my body hates running. I’m so happy to be running again. I’m actually starting to get in shape again. I’m not in as good a shape as I was when I was playing soccer and I’m not quite to where I was last summer when Carolyn and I would run nearly every day. But I’m pretty sure anyone who works out, especially in a specific area like running, biking, swimming, weight-lifting, etc., could agree with me.

I just happened to find this while looking for applicable pictures. So timely references for the win. Rest in Peace, Legend. He was really was the very best, like no one ever was.

I do promise, though, that this post is about Pokémon Go.  

Pokémon Go has created a bit of a divide among people, the media, my friends, and even Pokémon players. Some say it’s a waste of time or they don’t see the reason for it, while others think it’s the greatest thing since Mewtwo. I tend to side with the Go players to be completely honest.

The naysayers say it’s just a game. And on the surface, Pokémon really is just a game. But there is a sense of nostaligia with it because mine is the First Pokémon Generation. And yes people have done some stupid things like walking out into traffic, falling off cliffs, and getting “baited” and robbed. But the game cannot be blamed for that. Sorry folks, I believe in personal responsibility and if you can’t be bothered to look up from your screen to make sure you’re not walking into traffic, you frankly can’t be helped. That’s called stupid. Harsh? Maybe; but the game is not taking control of your body and mind.

I also want to clarify something very important. POKÉMON IS NOT DEMONIC AND IT IS NOT THE SPAWN OF SATAN. As many of you know, I’m a devout Christian. If you’re not, I won’t try to push my beliefs onto you, but there has been this long-running opposition from the Christian “Establishment” against Pokémon and against video games in general. And while I don’t think it’s wise for parents to allow their eight year-old to play rated M games, if you parent your kid the right way, he/she won’t become a criminal. That’s just the way it is. Sorry to burst your bubble anti-video game parents.

To bring this discussion back to Pokémon Go, though, I do have one major criticism for the game. People, especially my generation, seems to have an insecure attachment to their cell phones. Look, I get it, you have work, emails, and maybe you’re expecting a text from a certain someone, but if that’s the case, maybe you should just leave your phone behind when you go for a walk. #1 Give yourself some time away from work and those emails and #2 she’s not going to reply, Jon! God, give her some time! Jeez!

All jokes aside, I really don’t think it would kill people to go outside and walk without a phone. This is why the first half of this blog was committed to my triumphant return to running. No, I’m not playing Pokémon Go, but I’m not trying to say “Look at me! I work out without my phone and…

Photo credit to Brandon Poelstra. I saw him post it on Facebook first.

End quote. What I’m trying to say, and this is ultimately why I tend to side with the Go players. Whatever gets you out of your house and moving, whether it is running, or biking, or catching augmented reality Pokémon three miles away from your house, I think that’s great. But I don’t think it’s necessary to catch every Pokémon you see along the way. I don’t think you need enough Rattatas or Doduos to sing a song with their nicknames. If there’s a rare Pokémon in your area, then put your phone in your pocket and walk for a while in that direction, stopping to check every once in a while. Your phone doesn’t need to be in front of your face for the entire walk. And stop every once in a while to learn about the places you’re walking by or buy something. Who knows? You may even learn something interesting or about something you didn’t know you liked.

If you need Pokémon Go to workout, then use it. If you just enjoy the game, that’s fine too. But hopefully we’ll get to the point of realizing that working out is actually fun and of realizing that we don’t need a smartphone app to enjoy it.

But for now, whatever motivates you to go outside and move your body, do it. Just don’t let a game conquer your life. Enjoy it like you’d enjoy a large bag of peanut butter M&Ms (a great analogy for this post about exercise), enjoy the game in small doses, but don’t eat it all at once.

This post concludes as they always do, with a song. But seeing as I covered two topics, I figured I would just leave a link to the music video for Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey,” because I guess you could have an electric-type fight a Primape or an Infernape… I don’t know why you’d do that, but it’s your run of the game, not mine. What is the song actually about? No clue. If you do know, post a comment!