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Pokes and Mons: The Pros and Cons of Playing Pokemon GO

July 19, 2016

Just under two decades ago, Nintendo introduced the world to the Pocket Monsters, or Pokemon for short, in the form of a handheld adventure game where kids could go around pitting monsters against monsters in an effort to catch them, collect them, domesticate them, and then turn them into vicious fighters—kind of like underground dogfighting, but for kids.

Well, now they’re back, and this time they’ve migrated from the handheld Nintendo market to the handheld cellphone market, shedding their colors and jewels for the greatest action word ever, GO. And rather than walking around a scripted video game, hoping that your version of the game has the monster you’re trying to catch—when the alternative version is the one that actually has it—players can walk around the real world and seek out the Pokemon via GPS, in businesses, schools, bus stops, and wherever Pokemon decide to call a habitat. It sounds like my childhood exploration fantasy.

But is it worth it?  Let’s find out together.

Here are the Pros and Cons to Playing Pokemon GO.

Pros:

  • Once upon a time, video games were accused of making kids antisocial and keeping them away from sunshine. Oh how the tables have turned.
  • Playing Pokemon GO can teach you your local geography.
  • When playing Pokemon GO, you get to test your cellphone’s battery longevity and decide if you need an upgrade.
  • Playing Pokemon GO can prevent media poisoning whenever something bad happens in the world and someone undeserving takes the blame.
  • Playing Pokemon GO may just cure people of ADHD.
  • Pokemon GO can be enjoyed by any age and any culture, and is popular around the world.
  • When you play Pokemon GO, you support the evolution of the Pokemon culture and ensure the property sticks around another 20 years.

Cons:

  • Kids may more likely get sunburned if they hunt Pokemon too long, and they’ll undoubtedly start talking to strangers, including the ones with blue vans and candy.
  • Even though you might discover new and exciting places, you’ll never know it because you’ll still be looking at your cellphone.
  • If your cellphone battery runs out while you’re hunting Pokemon and your search for Charmander has led you to find yourself walking through a fiery downtown riot, you won’t have any means to call for help.
  • Playing Pokemon GO may inadvertently numb the populace from knowing what’s happening to the world around them, and history will eventually repeat itself, and stupider games may become the result.
  • Pokemon GO may cure people of ADHD by shifting focus from something dangerous (like oncoming traffic) to something meaningless (like catching Pokemon).
  • Any age and any culture are still populated by legions of careless idiots who don’t watch where they’re going.
  • If you play Pokemon for the next 20 years, there’s a good chance you’ll lose track of reality, and you’ll wake up one day, probably after catching the final Pokemon (by then there will be 1000 of them), wondering where your life went off track, and you’ll numb your pain by dusting off your old Gameboy and returning to the Pokemon game that started it all, and you’ll die sad and alone. But at least you caught them all!

Probably a lot more cons than pros, come to think of it, but seven’s plenty for this list. Hopefully that’ll give you a better idea whether playing Pokemon GO is smart for you.

If you’re a Pokemon GO player (I’m not), tell us your pros and cons in the comments below. Do you agree with this list? Did I forget anything important? I suppose it would make sense if I’ve forgotten something important. It’s the only thing about Pokemon GO that does make sense.

Bonus Pro:

If you play Pokemon GO, you can be like Morgan Freeman.

Bonus Con:

Playing Pokemon GO may teach you to become like someone you aren’t.

If you like my joke pros and cons lists, check out these other subjects that got the ringer:

The Pros and Cons of Riding a Hoverboard

The Pros and Cons of Using a Lightsaber

The Pros and Cons of Valentine’s Day

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In an Ideal World

Originally written for a job interview on May 8, 2007:

In an ideal world, a man will know who he is by the time he hits twenty-one. That’s what FOX television taught me. Sometimes his identity reveals a distinguishing individual, ripe with a heart for travel, eager for a first-class seat to a European country where its famously unique sport calls for distinguishing individuals to outrun the bulls. And sometimes that heart thrusts him into a great world of adventure, a world where casual housewives desire reading about.

In an ideal world, I could’ve been that man. But to call me a distinguished traveler in the face of twenty-one would’ve been like calling a duck on a pond a discriminating seafarer. My 1997 bus ride to Missouri proved that.

Heading for the plains of Mark Twain’s country couldn’t be written off as some adventure-free excursion, for there was a story to tell on the road leading there—one far scarier than sipping Champaign (or apple juice as the case might have been for someone not yet twenty-one) on a first-class to flight to anywhere. Not that one could control his outcome in the face of excitement, granted, for the journey outlined its plot long before it fulfilled itself. Only by picking a different seat could the story have unfolded with alternative details.

A month before I turned twenty-one, my mom informed me that she bought Greyhound tickets for the family to visit my grandmother in Missouri. At first I couldn’t believe I was leaving Florida in a week. Then, when the day actually came, I couldn’t believe I was going to be stuck on a bus for more than thirty hours with nowhere to run. And that “nowhere to run” feeling was the very thing that haunted me when some ex-Vietnam War veteran sat next to me (pinning me to the window) during our stretch from Gainesville, Florida, to Tifton, Georgia.

“The problem with the war is that it programs you, turns you into a monster,” he said. “You could be sitting at home minding your own business, and the next thing you know you could be killing your cat.”

I’d nod—psycho.

“And it could happen anywhere. I mean, you seem like a nice guy, but all it takes is a small trigger, and next thing I know, I could snap your neck. I wouldn’t want to, but by the time I’d realize what happened, it would be too late.”

By this point I’d wish I were in a different seat—or on a plane, which was odd considering I was afraid to fly.

Yes, the journey started there, laying the tracks for a colorful week away from home. But this moment taught me something valuable: adventure has its place, though anxiety lurks in the byline. Anyone who ever lost his luggage in Bermuda would’ve known that; the man who hit a tree on his way down a slope would’ve known that; and the scuba diver who looked up from the depths of the ocean to see a school of sharks separating him from his boat, even he would’ve known that. Once some strange forty-something veteran told me he could kill me where I sat and not think twice (with my mom and five-year-old sister sitting behind me), I came to know that.

And traveling on a bus was not the adventure I wanted. I came to know that, too.