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The Summer of 2016 is one that I will never forget. No not because Donald Trump started campaigning for his presidency; but because In June, I started a journey that has lasted up until now and will continue on for quite some time.
When I was growing up as a small child I wasn’t blessed with parents with a lot of money. Both my parents were on welfare and I lived a not so extravagant lifestyle in a not so extravagant neighborhood so I wasn’t really blessed with the opportunities of a lot of toys, and knowledge of said things. I spent the majority of my time outside playing in dirt, sand and the woods because it didn’t cost my parents money and kept me out of their hair.
Fast forward to June 2016. At this point everyone and their grandmother has a mobile phone regardless of if the know how to use it or not. People use them for calls, test messages and gaming. I never really used mine for gaming. There just wasn’t anything I really wanted to play. I spent a LOT of time in my house usually playing my PS4 and doing not much of anything really.
Until June. June 2016.
Throughout the months of May and June 2016 there were whispers and rumors about a mobile phone game that was incoming. It was called Pokémon Go and was supposed to use real world Google Maps to incorporate your avatar into the ‘real world’ to be able to search for these mystical creatures known only as ‘Pokémon’.
Now by this time; Pokémon had already been HUGE, throughout the world as a card game and TV shows for may, many years but I didn’t know much about it. The only thing I knew was that there was a Pokémon called ‘Pikachu’ and that was just about it.
But the hype surrounding this game was so strong, I had to download it to find out what all the hype was about.
So I found the APK online from an earlier release from a different country because it wasn’t available in Canada just yet and off I went. I created my avatar and followed the steps on the screen that prompted me on what to do. Starter Pokémon: Charmander. I like fire and I thought he looked cool. That’s all my choice was based off of.
But then the game prompted me to do something I hadn’t done in years.
Go for a walk to find more Pokémon.
A walk? What’s a walk?
But I was curious. So I got my butt up off the couch; put down the PS4 controller, laced up the old sneakers and off I went.
One, two, three catches later. Wait oh I gotta spin this stop to get items to use. Four, five, six catches later. Oh, what’s that grey spot on the radar? I don’t have that one I have to find it! Queue running around the neighborhood like a buffoon, holding up my phone searching for something that’s not really there.
Once the game was actually released in Canada people were EVERYWHERE! The hype about this game was real and the streets were FILLED with people looking for Pokémon!
This was now me.
The game immediately roped me in and I know exactly what did it.
The ‘wonder of discovery’.
Discovering these cute little Pokémon monsters, thinking that there is 151 to find and just simply wanting to ‘Catch em All’. And at the same time, I was out of my house, walking, and exploring parts of my city I hadn’t done before. I started bringing my kid with me. She started enjoying it to. We would go to local parks and play.
As time rolled on Niantic (the company that created Pokémon Go), rolled out more and more new features. Gyms to battle Pokémon, Shiny Pokémon – which are special Pokémon with different color pallets, and best of all; even more Pokémon to catch.
I became a shiny hunter to hunt down those elusive special ones and still to this day, that’s what I do. Pokémon eventually came out with events which give players bonuses all the time which I regularly participate in. I credit this game for getting me out of the house, getting me walking, and getting me discovering.
Some things I’ve learned over the last three years of playing are the fact that everyone plays this game. No, I don’t mean everyone in the world. I mean everyone from different cultures, creeds, ages and ethnicities. Old, young, black, white, brown and everything in between coming together to have fun and play a mobile game that they love. We get out. We explore. We catch. We evolve. We battle. We trade. And most importantly, we have fun.
Oh and one more thing. Niantic hears your requests believe me. I’ve learned this. You just have to be patient and understand that there is rhyme and reason behind everything that they do or don’t do.
Thanks, Niantic, for giving the world something we can love. Something we can come together with and something to unite us.