Dear Crabby, What is a Pokémon?

Dear Crabby, What is a Pokémon?

Sincerely, Joe Mime


Dear Mr. Mime,

This reminds me of a joke I tell my grandchildren. “How do you get a Pikachu on a bus? You Pok-e-mon.” Helps if you point your finger and make like you’re poking someone as you deliver the punch line. I’ve told this joke for a while, but never knew what it meant until Pokémon Go came on the scene. It got the same response most of my comments and jokes do, rolled eyes and sighs, so I never cared if, or why, it was funny.

Pokémon is a Nintendo video game from the 1990s. Back then, obsessed kids would play the game in family rooms and basements, indoors of course, fluttering their thumbs on controllers to try to “catch ’em all.” Who knew that all that thumb thumping was really just training for the texting marathons of today. Now, Pokémon is back as a mobile app for cell phones.

Dear Crabby Gives AdviceThis sensation sweeping America is the reason we’ve seen our kids and grandkids wondering aimlessly down sidewalks and through parks staring at their cell phones. At first glance, I didn’t think much of it. After all, we see people staring at mobile devices all the time – even while driving. But take a closer look, they appear to be in a zombie-like state. I know what you’re thinking, that still describes most millennials. However, it’s different.

All ages now seem hooked on becoming “trainers” for cartoon monsters they can find using their phones. It’s free to get the app and get started. Best I understand it, your phone will let you know that a Pokémon is in your area. Using your phone’s GPS and clock, the app gets you looking at your phone’s screen, as it displays a mixed reality world of your surroundings – such as landmarks – to then swipe fictional balls at the character – trying to “catch ’em all,” just like the original game. Catch enough of them and then you can head to the “gym” (not a real gym of course) to compete against other players. Ironically, much like a gym (a real one where people workout), these kids are getting outside – walking for miles, getting fresh air, and exercise – something the 1990s game never did.

Here’s the catch. They make money by selling you PokéCoins and items to lure Pokémon to PokéStops (a fake place on your phone where you meet other players). These places are based on real-world locations. There is more to it than that, but that’s enough to get you started and about all I care to understand about the stupid thing. If you end up playing, just remember not to do it while driving and please look up when crossing the road – the car coming at you may be looking for Pikachus on the loose.


Sincerely, Dear Crabby


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