Wow…did I just write that? This is coming from someone who rarely plays video games. I don’t even do Words With Friends or Angry Birds or Candy Crush. I bought a Nintendo Wii years ago thinking it might help me exercise…nope, I haven’t even turned it on in over two years. No judgment about those who are into video games…we all have our differing interests and enjoyments.

I was talking about this Pokémon GO phenomenon, now the biggest mobile game in US history, with a friend a few days ago. We were also talking about my upcoming trip to Orlando and its’ theme parks. The conversation went like this:

Him: “You should play. You may get a hard to find Pokémon. They’re most frequent near major attractions.”

Me: “Why would I want a hard to find Pokémon or even any Pokémon for that matter? It’s not like I would win money or anything.”

Him: “For bragging rights?”

Me: “Who cares?!”

But, a few days later, as the Pokémon craze continued, I thought, “why not see what this is all about.” It is free after all, not like that Nintendo Wii that I shelled out good money for. So, I downloaded and created my avatar. I had no idea how to play or really anything about Pokémon…what is a Pikachu anyway? So, warning, one of the first steps is catching your first Pokémon. Imagine my surprise when suddenly on my phone a Pokémon appeared sitting before me on my couch. Damn, that’s going to give me nightmares. After a Google search of “how to play Pokémon GO,” I took a walk around my block to try it out and here is what I found.

It was informative. PokeStops are located at “interesting places, such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments.” The PokeStops on the few blocks I explored were not new to me because I have lived in the same place for 11 years. But, they did highlight various sculptures and places of interest; things that I would easily overlook walking down the street. So, I am looking forward to trying the game on more unfamiliar blocks.


I walked! Living in Chicago, I walk a great deal. And I only tested the game around the block. Yet, that was one more block added to my daily steps. Plus, I have two eggs that say I need to walk .5 kilometers and 2 kilometers respectively to hatch. I think this may be a better motivator for me to walk than my Fitbit, which I ditched several months ago.


You have to get outside. I think it is ironic that a video game is getting people outside more. Yes, faces are buried in the screen but it does seem a good way to integrate our increased use of screen time with an exploration of the outdoors…especially for children.


It’s social. Apparently people are congregating, meeting, and mingling at hotspots. I haven’t delved that far yet but in only my walk around the block, I met someone. Safely walking down a side street on the sidewalk, someone came up behind me and the conversation went like this:

Him: “There’s a Pokémon up ahead.”

Me: “Oh my god! I never play video games but a friend encouraged me, so I am trying it out around the block.”

Him: “So, funny. I was only joking.”

Me: “No, I’m serious. I don’t do video games and I’m only trying it out yet it’s kind of addictive.”

He was good looking. I am pretty sure gay but hey, who knows who I might meet next.


My verdict…you should give it a try. I am not recommending spending hours at a time playing because after all it is a video game. And of course, be aware of your surroundings, as accidents and even deaths have been reported from players focused on their phone. Otherwise, let’s see what kinds of Pokémon Disney World serves up 😉