In the five minutes before writing this post, my game screen was a Magikarp about to give a colossal blowie. It’s terrifying. The stuff of nightmares.
It’s the second scariest thing I’ve seen this weekend after the very Spielbergian Stranger Things. (If you have eight hours to spare, watch it!)
However, I have accepted that this is my life now. That this is what life has wrought me in my attempt to catch them all. In celebration of my journey to (not) becoming a Pokemon master, let’s look at the 13 stages of playing Pokemon Go.
1. The rush of (illegally or otherwise) acquiring Pokemon Go
When I was a kid, Pokemon was it. I even ran a side hustle where I made fake Pokemon cards to sell in the playground in school. I’d collect Pokemon magazines detailing rare cards and I’d cut the pictures out and carefully paste them over crappy elemental battle cards to sell for a euro. I was eight.
That same year, after receiving the ghost of the holy spirit at my communion, I went out and bought a stack of Pokemon cards and a Pokemon t-shirt with my Communion money. Naturally, this was the important bit and not the sacrament of the holy spirit.
With Pokemon Go, I am an eight-year-old dreamer again, this time lost to a story that’s unfolding entirely around me.
Some stories belong in childhood forever: adventures and experiences and the universal power of something shared between friends. That’s what Pokemon was. That’s what it is again – to a generation of millennials in a time that’s stumbling between crises.
2. Logging in
In comes the log-in screen of death. Many have tried. Many have failed. Many will keep trying and failing. Watching the game load for the first time was a weird kind of magic. I had decided I was gonna choose Charmander. Charmander forever.
3. Making a character who looks nothing like you
There’s no customisation options. To quote Regina George: Boo, you whore.
4. The despair of being chucked off the server
5. Finally getting in
Euphoria. Pokemon Go is what heaven would be if heaven were real. (Entrapping small animals against their will and forcing them to fight to the death/exhaustion…)
6. Being hoodwinked by the nefarious and ill-explained mechanics of the game and getting a Bulbasaur
I didn’t realise what was happening and inadvertently chose Bulbasaur.
Nothing is explained.
7. Being hoodwinked by the game and not understanding tracking for like a week
I still don’t understand how tracking works. This afternoon I tried tracking a Squirtle. Emphasis on ‘tried’.
8. Winning your first gym battle and reigning supreme over the little people
BOW TO ME, MINIONS.
9. Losing the gym five minutes later
WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY? (*Insert joke about coups.*)
10. “Please try again later.”
The server lags so bad even Pokestops won’t give me items. Sticking with Pokemon Go is the true test of our times. In a moment of constantly being booted from the server, I made my housemate’s cat pose in a photo.
This is what augmented reality was made for.
11. Realising that you don’t live in a city centre so are being eclipsed by people who have played for about ten minutes
So you’ve played since the start and all you’re getting are Rattatas and Pidgeys? ALL LIVES MATTER, okay?
But seriously, it’s crazy annoying. Like come on – redistribution of the wealth, Niantic!
12. Spreading the Pokemon Go joy to friends/family
Three lunchtimes this week, a work friend and I went out Pokemon hunting. The first time we ran into a guy in a dark blue suit who asked what team we were on and for that minute we were part of a weird kind of secret.
Pokemon Go is the perfect balm to the uncertain child in all of us.
13. Resolving to quit. Quitting. Quitting quitting. Never quitting
It’s a vicious cycle of being booted from the server, trying to log in, and threatening to quit. All I want from my Poke-life is an Arcanine and a Dragonite. I can quit happily thereafter.