Pokemon Go has seriously broken the Internet in a much more iconic way that Kim Kardashian ever could have (sorry for reminding you of that dark time). There’s a reason for that. When playing Pokemon, whether PoGo or any of the games before, the player is immersed in a parallel world full of adventure, thrilling battles, and cute, friendly creatures that are so easy to get attached to. For many people, including me, Pokemon has served as a way to escape from life. Even though I believe that it is important to be present in the real world, sometimes there comes a point when the real world is a little too much.
For me, that point was around sixth grade. This was the transitionary age where I was starting to be introduced to the real world . The real world is a terrible and confusing place, completely contrasting the structured and happy world of elementary school. I started becoming aware of death, poverty, inequality, oppression even if I didn’t completely understand it. Pokemon was a safety bubble for me during this time. I was something I could understand completely and conquer from sheer effort. It empowered me in a time when I felt powerless compared to the ways of the world.
Of course, the game that shaped my late childhood didn’t start off being that big of a deal to me. My mom brought home a few GameBoy games from work and Pokemon FireRed happened to be one of them. Even though I’d seen stuff about Pokemon at Walmart and it looked stupid to me, I decided to try it against my better judgment. I got my pink GameBoy Advance SP out, plugged in the game, and waited for it to light up my screen. I distinctly remember thinking the music was pretty cool, and I liked the big dragon thing on the starting screen, which I later learned is Charizard and would become a favorite Pokemon of mine.
I think I became hooked on the game right around reaching the Viridian Forest. At that point, the starter I chose, naturally Charmander, was already becoming like a friend to me. I also became obsessed with evolution because of the Bug Pokemon found in the forest. They were fun to evolve because they were fast-paced. Little did I know at that point, the game has a compelling storyline as well as the feeling of freedom and adventure. That’s what I really liked about the game: it feels like the world you’re in is your own. I was still too young to really explore my surroundings alone, so this filled a void I’d longed for.
I enjoyed the game over a long period of time, 2 years to be exact. I didn’t want to rush getting to the end because I enjoyed it so much. At this point, my all-star team consisting of Charizard, Dragonite, Kabutops, Lapras, Raichu, and Kadabra were my favorite things ever. We explored every part of Kanto, defeated the Elite Four after MANY, MANY tries, and ALMOST caught Mewtwo… Because of that, I have great times and great memories with those Pokemon. I took them on vacation with me, to school… Everywhere.
In those times of confusion and lots of learning, Pokemon brought me happiness. I “grew out” of it for a little bit while I focused on other things. The truth is, no one ever really grows up. There are two ways to handle your inner child: fight it or embrace it. Because I’m still so young, yet I’ve already learned a lot, I know the importance of embracing the inner child. For that reason, I’m walking miles around my little town every day. I think of all the times I wished Kanto could be real. Now, Kanto is everywhere and that brings me so much joy.
To any adult playing Pokemon Go, keep it up. Live the dream you’ve had for years longer than I did. To any child starting your Pokemon journey, good luck. And to anyone who tries to dismiss any player as stupid or lazy, stop. To enjoy the simple pleasures in life is to live.