A lot of people have asked me what Pokemon Go is; I think it’s time we provide an explanation for those who don’t quite understand. I’ve been a fan of Pokemon for two decades, and when you live with that affection in your heart for so long, you learn to explain it to people in very simple terms. (Note: for brevity, I won’t be using the accent over the E in Pokemon. I don’t feel like learning that keyboard shortcut and the people who really need this explanation won’t be typing it that way anyhow.)
So, here goes:
“What the hell is a pokeyman?”
It’s Pokemon. As in “poke” like with your finger; “eh” like the Canadian colloquialism; and “mon” like a child using an inadvertently racist Jamaican accent to say “man.”
“Ok nerd, what is Pokemon?”
Remember in the ’90s when you were trying to figure out why you had funny feelings about girls? While you were doing that, a bunch of us were playing this video game where we captured adorable monsters and then used them for an elaborate version of virtual cockfighting. By a bunch of us, I mean a metric crap ton. The original versions of the game sold more than 22 million copies worldwide—this new app is an augmented reality version of that original game.
“I get it. You like video games. So how do you play Pokemon Go?”
You wander around in the real world with the app opened on your phone. It vibrates when a cute little monster is nearby, and then you flick magical techno balls at the adorable beasties to capture them. For some reason, once they’re captured inside the ball they go from being a wild animal to falling in love with you. I don’t know if the ball brainwashes them or if all Pokemon species are inherently susceptible to Stockholm syndrome, but that’s what happens. Then you go to semi-randomly determined locations called “Gyms” and battle each other. Winners get a sense of accomplishment that is similar to beating a dog at checkers.
Also, you can take pictures with the Pokemon superimposed onto real life.
“So you can fight people at Gyms and Pokestops?”
You battle Pokemon at Gyms for your team. Think of it like a complicated game of capture the flag but instead of grabbing a pennant, you are forcing make believe animals to do professional wrestling. Pokestops are where you refill expendable items. They are all based on locations of art installations. That’s why the Pokestops are named things like, “Mural Next To Grandview Little Caesar’s.”
“You said teams. What the hell are teams?”
There are three teams—Instinct, Valor, and Mystic—that you can choose to be a part of. Each of these teams works cooperatively to take and hold the Gyms. Holding a Gym can earn you game currency as well as experience. The higher your level, the more satisfaction you will get from beating a dog at checkers.
“So Pokemon Go includes elements of gang wars over turf?”
“Which team is the best?”
Team Instinct for life. Our mascot is a bird made of lightning. Don’t ask stupid questions.
“How much does it cost to play?”
You can play the game without spending a dime on it. But since certain actions expend items, you have to refill them. Pokeballs, for example.
“Why should I care about pokeballs?”
They are why Nintendo’s stock price has increased by 40 percent in the game’s first five days. Because this thing is a bloody gold mine.
“You’re shitting me.”
You can play the game completely for free—you just have to walk around. However, if you live in an area without any Pokestops, the temptation to buy Pokeballs can be overwhelming. Especially when the game coughs up a Pokemon you haven’t caught before. I mean, who knows if you will ever see a Snorlax ever again? IT’S ONLY $0.99 FOR 20 POKEBALLS, I’LL ONLY SPEND THE MONEY THIS ONE TIME BECAUSE I NEED THAT ELECTRONIC CUTIE MUFFIN TO COMPLETE MY SENSE OF SELF WORTH!!!
“But 40 percent means that Nintendo has added like $9 billion in value to its company.”
I’m sorry, did I say gold mine? I meant platinum mine. And all the platinum is studded with diamonds and wearing panda skin soaked in ambergris spit up by albino sperm whales.
“This is insane.”
I’m not disputing that.
“Why are there sweaty nerds in my backyard? Don’t they know this is private property?”
First of all, they are sweaty because the game was released in the middle of the summer when it’s 90 degrees outside—everyone is sweaty right now. Second of all, a lot of people grew up differently after playing the original game. Some of them grew up to become well-adjusted adults with spouses and houses. Some of them grew up to become comedians who write articles explaining cultural phenomena and have large attractive penises. Some of them grew up to become Juggalos, the questionably hygienic fans of the rap group, Insane Clown Posse. Wednesday, I saw a guy with a hatchet ninja tattoo at Goodale Park celebrating the catch of an Eevee. I wanted to take a picture of him, but I was really close to finding an Electabuzz. Talk about a Sophie’s choice. The fact that you are seeing a stereotypical nerd in your backyard is luck of the draw.
As for why they are back there—in theory, different types of Pokemon (grass, water, etc.) live in different environments. So if you are near The Olentangy, you are likely to encounter a water type. At Franklin Conservatory, you might find a grass type. In the Short North, you may find Pokemon that were inspired by rats, pigeons, and Nina West.
“Do you mean Jynx?”
“Why are they in my backyard?”
Some people are insensitive jerk buckets who care more about catching Pokemon than respecting private property laws.
“What about the girl who found a dead body?”
That could be what happens if you try to catch Mewtwo before you’re the best. The very best. The best there ever was.
“Ok. I think I understand what it is, but I still think it’s stupid. It’s just a game, and it doesn’t really matter.”
YOU’RE STUPID! YOU DON’T REALLY MATTER! I HAVE TO GO BEAT A DOG AT CHECKERS!