When I finished the 5th grade, my mom rewarded my hard work by taking me to Best Buy and buying a GameBoy Color. I bought one game: Pokémon. I was hooked. I battled my friends, collected the cards. I WAS a Pokémon master. Now that Pokémon Go is here, I can safely say if I were a kid I would be HOOKED. I have played Pokémon Go a little bit, and I don’t want to brag, but I’ve caught a Pikachu, and I’m a level 8. I don’t play it every day, by any stretch, but I get why many people do. Pokémon Go is awesome.
I have seen many Christians encourage people to STOP playing Pokémon. There is a lot of “PokeHate” rolling around social media.
There are two great reasons for concern: safety and sanity. It is not safe to be on your phone for anything while driving or for children to wander away from their homes without their parent’s permission. Also, we as a society are losing our sanity because we stare at screens of various sizes far too much of our day. But that’s also true not only for Pokémon Go, but for Netflix binging, social media creeping, and internet browsing.
There are several valuable aspects of Pokémon Go worth celebrating. I think Christians should actually support Pokémon Go. Here are five reasons Christians should stop the hate and celebrate Pokémon Go.
- People are going outside. People must walk around outside in order to catch Pokémon. This is providing an excuse to get fresh air for people who love gaming. We have yet to see a movie or television show provide the incentive for outdoor activity that comes from Pokémon Go.
- People are having to exercise to play Pokémon Go. This game cannot be played on the couch. You have to be moving around. Not only to catch Pokémon, but to hatch eggs you collect on the way. I even heard of a guy who admitted he had no motivation for years to exercise until Pokémon Go got him off the couch and out the door!
- People are interacting with other players. Play the game or watch those who do, and you’ll quickly find people are engaging with others, not just the game on the screen. There is an opportunity to meet people while battling at a gym or stopping at a PokeShop. Again, safety is needed as a precaution, but this is a great opportunity to engage with people in our city you otherwise never could meet. There are even churches using this as an opportunity to welcome people to come catch Pokémon at their church. Genius!
- People are finding common ground. In a day when politics has never been more divisive in our country, we have an opportunity to experience a little cheap unity by coming together around Pokémon Go. I realize this is a ridiculous unity creator, but it is also ridiculous that national tragedies are now politicized and divisive as well. We need to begin to be reminded that there is more that we all have in common than different.
- Pokémon is a clean game. There is not a single curse word in Pokémon Go. Not only are the cartoons modestly dressed, there are no inappropriate sexual undertones. The battles are the closest thing you get to violence, and that is pocket monster to pocket monster. This is equivalent to Mario of a generation ago. The one caution for concerned parents is they do teach evolution. My suggestion: Use it as an opportunity to talk to your kids and let them play the game.
Don’t be unaware of the potential downfalls. Have a healthy balance in how much you time you spend on Pokémon Go. As the welcome screen warns, always be aware of your surroundings. But I say, enjoy it while it’s popular for the next couple months. If you don’t find it appealing to you, that’s fine. Don’t be the crabby Christian who hates something that is as innocent as Pokémon Go. With everything else that needs our criticism in the world, let’s celebrate a harmless kid’s game.