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Playing Pokémon Go as a parent: 07/18/16
Pokémon Go was released in the United States on July 7th. It's essentially a re-skinned Ingress. Everything that was a BFD in Ingress is now either a Poké Stop or Gym. Although I never played Ingress, my husband did and I'm familiar enough with the map to know where to look while playing (at least locally).
At the time we were nearing the end of our nine day road trip through the American southwest. We were in Flagstaff, relaxing before our drive to Lake Havasu — a rare point in our trip where we could leave late in the morning. Capturing virtual creatures on an actual road trip seemed counterintuitive, so I waited to install it until we got home.
My initial plan to play it was to add it hikes where I know the route well and have gotten bored of photographing the same areas. I thought that chasing and hunting for Pokémon would encourage me to go further. But I ran into a couple snags with that plan.
First and foremost, I really hate walking around with my phone out all the time. Now I could have set it to allow push notifications but I don't want my phone going off at all hours just because a Pokémon spawned.
Haruyuki Arita is a pretty good stand in for what I looked like that first day playing Pokémon Go
Augmented reality always makes me think of the anime series (and light novels), Excel World. And like the main character, I am short and round. In the reality part of augmented reality, I stick out. At least I don't have to yell "Burst Link!" to make the game go.
The next big problem, is that my youngest is too young to have her own Apple ID. So her iPad is linked to my account. So the instant I installed it on my phone, the App Store told her about it. Like Ingress, Pokémon Go requires a cell signal and GPS connection. Her iPad has neither and she was crushed.
And then it hit me. She's nearly ten and I'm not. Why not play with her? I suggested to her that I be Brock (or Mama Brock as she has dubbed me) and she be Ash (or Asharriet as she dubbed the player character). Like Brock, I promised to provide snacks, keep her out of trouble, and transportation.
I thought we might be weird, a mother daughter Pokémon team. Maybe in some places we are, but here in the East Bay, we are normal. Since we've started playing we've seen six or so other parent/child teams.
Pokémon Go offers us something extra to do at the local parks. My daughter wants to go hiking with me now even when there aren't puddles to jump in. She also gets to hunt from the passenger seat while I'm driving (en route to other events, not just to play).