Pokemon: a confession #embarassed

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You may have caught the news of the new must have, a sort of An App A Day  bit of fluff – Pokemon Go – which has just been released in the UK. It is creating some noise. It’s a computer game where the app takes you outside hunting Pokemon, the phone beaming an image of the Pokemon when you find them I believe – as will become apparent I haven’t looked that closely at the detail.

And it is controversial. On the one hand it has some very desirable effects. You see, this latest plaything was brought to my attention by Elizabeth Barnes who blogs set Autism Mom. She has been singing this app’s praises as it has encouraged her son to leave his beloved computer screen and head off outside.

Marvellous.

But two people have fallen off cliffs following their targets

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the Holocaust museum has asked people not to use it inside and in one case this child’s plaything has ended up taking people into a sex shop

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Hmm.

But just reading the word Pokemon  brings a shudder. You see, Pokemon and I have a history.

Back in the late 1990s, before apps, before Xbox, before PlayStation even, we had Game Boys. Or should that be the children had Game Boys?

gameboys

Are you old enough or young enough to remember these chunky hand held devices into which you slid a mini cassette? Super Mario was the main game I think but – and I’m guessing without checking that source of all wisdom, Wiki – sometime about 1997 the first Pokemon appeared. There were two cassettes available here in the U K – red and blue. And at the Lawyer’s primary school they began to be discussed as the game to have. He was 7 at the time.

We gave in. Like you do. I think that capitulation may have followed Pokemon cards and the swapping craze – do children still swap cards or is it some interactive swipe thingy now?

Anyway, he got one and began to play it. He did OK, for his age but he often got stuck and it fell to me to try and help him to move on. At this point in my life – aged 49 ¾ and running a department in my law firm – I read classics and went to the theatre in my spare time. I jogged and dug the garden and was generally up my own arse with pretension. So I wasn’t the obvious candidate to play Pokemon.

In 1998 I was granted a sabbatical from work, 3 months off after ten years a partner, a sort of recharge your batteries break. One contemporary enrolled in a fine art appreciation course in Vienna, another wrote a book on the bird life of Mali. I just wanted a holiday.

First up, we decided to visit some old friends in Bahrain. They’d been there for a few years, we’d said we go and now we had the time. It was the May half term.

Have you been to Bahrain? No? Surprise me. Ok, it was lovely to visit our friends but their kids were at school, they worked so we had a lot of spare time… I could have read more improving literature. Took up painting. Found a passion for Islamic Art. Scratched sundials in my shoes. Anything but become a Pokemon addict.

I told myself it was so I knew how to answer the Lawyer’s questions when he got stuck. I was ‘playing ahead’ to be ready to help him. I was intrigued by this latest passion and wanted to understand the socio-psychological impacts on our cultural and social structures. Bullshit. I was hooked.

I denied it, of course. Like any addict. I think I only really realised the depths to which I had sunk when I caught myself screaming at the friend’s four year old who had picked up the handset I was using before I had had a chance to save where I had got to. Note I still say ‘the handset I was using’ rather than ‘my handset.’ Technically I had bought it for the Vet, then five, not that she was allowed anywhere near it.

I played it to an end. I achieved that much. It told you how long you had taken to get there. the little number showed ’25 hours…’ and then some minutes and seconds. I don’t remember now. 25 hours. Over one whole day of my life. On Pokemon.

No one thought it charming, certainly not the traumatized four year old and his less than impressed mother. The Textiliste, as is her way, said little though her right eyebrow had a lot of exercise. I never tried again, never ventured close to a Game Boy. I don’t do any computer games. Ever.

I returned to books and later writing.

But with most of my social and, especially, familial faux-pas, revenge is a dish best served… It doesn’t matter the temperature, just so long as it gets dished out.

In 2000 we visited other friends in San Francisco. We decided to go to the cinema, both families. The children – 5 of them – wanted to see Pokemon, the Movie 2000. The adults didn’t. There was some worthy drama with Judy Dench and Ralph Fiennes on another screen. But the children couldn’t go into the cinema on their own. At least one adult would have to accompany them.

I didn’t argue. How could I? She would have given my guilty secret away in a heartbeat.

Anyway, how bad could it be?

The San Francisco Chronicle, in its (over-generous one star) review said (I may not have this exactly right)

Abysmally Bad; take a torch and your tax return, you will have more fun

Revenge, of a sort.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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47 Responses to Pokemon: a confession #embarassed

  1. Busted. ☺ We still have the original Atari and its games in the basement, bring it out for a laugh when family gets together. (We had no children when it was purchased.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My daughters told me about this latest craze Geoff. Certainly sounds very addictive if people are falling off cliffs.Perhaps you better stay away….. All things in moderation seems to be the motto to be used in this case!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. willowdot21 says:

    Oh! You big bad blue meant!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    Don’t do the Pokémon Gooooo!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AJ.Dixon says:

    This really made me smile. Serves you right! 😆
    I was hooked on Pokemon as a kid. I was forever borrowing Gameboys from my friends, my neighbour and cousin so that I could get my Pokemon fix. I remember even giving my trading cards to my rather devious neighbour in exchange for a paltry half an hour on Pokemon Blue…I didn’t realise how bad that sounds until I typed it just now! I was certainly hooked…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Autism Mom says:

    It was as fun a story as I’d hoped it would be 🙂

    Like

  7. Erika Kind says:

    My kids starte this Pokémon Go this week….. I still don’t get it completely… They are catching things which don’t excist… lol! Anyway, I remember my first Nintendo “Gameboy”. It was one game with an octopus and I loved it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. trifflepudling says:

    Ha ha ha, good tale!
    I heard yesterday that someone had created a fake PokeStop by placing a soft Pokémon toy on their drive, framed appropriately. The stops are placed randomly and for all you know, you may have one outside your own house! People get stuck up trees and all sorts. Something to steer clear of, maybe! If some of the above is technically incorrect, apologies – I have been trying to piece together what on earth it’s all about recently!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jan says:

    I am old enough to remember Game Boys. I can imagine some man saying to his wife “I only went to the topless bar to find my Pokemon.” Right!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rachel M says:

    My son is hooked and now I get nagged everyday to take him out to catch Pokemon.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. TanGental says:

    Ah the grey player a new phenomenon

    Like

  12. Charli Mills says:

    We had the cards in our house and the boy graduated to Magic Cards. Now the boy, the eldest girl, and the SIL boy all play Magic Cards. Now Settlers of Catan…if an app came out for that, you bet I’d be all over that thing risking cliffs. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. This was hilarious Geoffle – I had a Gameboy during my GCSE’s and became hooked on Mario, and my mum banned me from using it until I had done my exams… It’s so easy to become addicted! Go on, what is your favourite Pokemon?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Helen Jones says:

    So have you downloaded the app yet, Geoff? ;-D
    Very funny story, I especially loved how your contemporaries did such ‘worthy’ things during their time off while you were playing Pokemon. And kids do trade cards today, at least at my daughter’s school they do – it tends to be Moshi Monsters and football, though I imagine Pokemon is coming around again. And, apparently, the people who came up with Pokemon Go are now looking at developing a similar thing with Game of Thrones (!) Then I might be hooked…

    Like

  15. Mick Canning says:

    It totally passed me by, I’m delighted to say.

    Like

  16. I was spending all my time with Lara Croft, rather than with Pokemon. Her first Tomb Raider game came out on the PlayStation 1 around 1997, and I was hooked. Even got engaged to her, but never quite made it to the Church. I was very lucky to have escaped.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ali Isaac says:

    What is it with Pokemon? I just don’t get the fascination. My son once had hallucinations that there were pokemon on the stairs, he was terrified and wouldn’t go downstairs. It was a really traumatic experience, especially for me, watching it happen. I’d rather read a book any day. Not about pokemon. Haha! Maybe you should jump on the bandwagon and write a book about them while they’re still hot? Or even better still, how to cope with a pokemon addiction. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sacha Black says:

    This officially took over as my fave post ever. You CRACK me up. I had a yellow game boy and before that the even larger ORIGINAL grey brick game boy. But you and you’re addiction – actual tears of laughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Don’t hear much about Pokemon Go anymore. It was the rage for several months, but now… crickets. Wonder why? Maybe others like your Game Boy crush, woke from the hypnotic lure of video games, and had to go back to “real life.”

    Wonderful Throwback!

    Like

  20. Jennifer says:

    We had the cards, the games but I didn’t play then. But now, oh yes, I play Pokemon! out in the real world.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. josypheen says:

    I used to work for Pokemon UK. It was hilarious – the office was full of pokemon toys and we had nintendo games set up int he boardroom so we could play on a big screen at lunch time. The best part was the business cards with different pokemon on. 😀

    My job was rubbish (just admin) but I still liked working there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      That has to have been surreal, taking it seriously in any way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • josypheen says:

        Well, I guess you can get used to any kind of madness!?

        Once I had to introduce Pikachu and Darkrai at a cinema in Leicester square. There were hundreds of excited kids (and adults) that wanted photos with them so it was pretty fun… Until the film started. I was obliged to sit and watch it and omg it was so incredibly dull! I feel your pain having to watch one of their terrible movies!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        You should introduce a weekly blog challenge based around a character and it’s powers. It’ll help you as a recovering Pokemoniste!!

        Liked by 1 person

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