Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you’ll have heard of Pokemon Go!, a new mobile-based game that lets you catch Pokemon around the world, doing battle with other players and so on. It has its fair share of critics – no game that has men in their forties chasing fictional creatures around the world was ever going to be immune to criticism – but there’s also a lot of positivity surrounding the game, mainly due to its ability to actually get nerds and geeks to leave the goddamn house for once.
I’m one of those geeks and nerds, I’m not ashamed to say, and I’m really enjoying the game
when it works. It got me thinking, however, that actually, Pokemon Go isn’t too dissimilar to parenting. In fact, I think parenting makes you a better Pokemon Go player – and here’s why…
- You’re surrounded by small, fluffy-looking fictional creatures. For people who rarely see the outside world (i.e. Pokemon Go’s target demographic), suddenly being surrounded by Eeevees and Zubats might be a bit of a culture shock for these indoor-dwelling geeks. You’re in your element – your house is full of tiny inanimate creatures, in the form of your child’s stuffed toy menagerie.
- Chasing small wild creatures around. You think getting a Golbat into a Pokeball is tough? Try wrestling a two year old into dungarees.
- Inordinate amounts of walking required. I walked for miles around and around that hospital to try and coax SB out during labour. 10km egg-hatching hikes? Bring it on.
- The constant demand for the sweet stuff. If you want to win battles with your Pokemon, you’ll need to feed them candy. That’s pretty much the same for your toddler – there’s nothing quite like chocolate-based bribery.
- It’s all about the competition. Are you Team Mystic, Team Instinct or Team Valor? The online battles between the three teams are almost as vicious as the Team Breast vs Team Bottle feud, or the eternal conflict between Team Disposable Nappy and Team Cloth. The claws are always out.
- Bye Bye Data. Whether you’re hunting Pokemon or browsing Mumsnet, one thing is for sure – your data bill is going to be sky high at the end of the month.
- Solidarity. Once upon a time, you’d meet the eyes of a fellow battle-hardened parent in the supermarket. They’d share your unbrushed hair; your slightly bedraggled outfit; your willingness to give up all your worldly possessions for a good night’s sleep. That’s the parent solidarity. You’re unlikely to make eye contact with a Pokemon Go! player, but on the odd occasion you do glance up from your Pokedex, you’re almost certain to see someone else walking along haphazardly, their phone held out in front of them as they hunt down that Kakuna so they stand a chance of taking over the Pokegym in the public toilets. It doesn’t matter what team they’re on; you are both risking getting hit by cars, cyclists and irate pedestrians in your quest to be the very best (like no-one ever was). That’s solidarity.
By that logic, I should be a master Pokemon hunter, right?
There’s just one tiny problem. Being a parent means you’re responsible for a small human who relies entirely on you, and hunting Ponytas and Pikachus takes away from your “I’m responsible for my child” time.
Which may go some way to explaining why, for all my transferable Poke-parenting skills… I’m still only on Level 2.