PokemonGO, Eater of All Life

pokemon go

I had a life once, before PokemonGO. Wake up in the morning, feed the cat, breakfast, agency work, home to cook. Brunch on the weekends. Write and freelance during the off hours. Since last Friday, that’s all changed.

Yesterday I woke up early, hastily fed the cat, and sped off, pokemoning all the way to the train station. The app crashed a couple of times, which seems to be normal now during rush hour in Melbourne. I’m back online by the time I reach East Richmond station, which is one stop away from work. It’s now 8am. I get out and meet my friend up the road at the Pokemon Gym near his house, which is a Church. Pokemon’s managed to do the one thing that my conservative Christian mom has failed to do for 30 years: get me up early in the morning to go to church.

We take that gym over, then head off to another nearby gym to take that over too, all in the name of Team Mystic. Then I walk to work. Walk, mind you, lugging my laptop and lunch, pokemoning all the way. My friend also walks 2 train stops to his work, where, cutting through the MCG Park, he picks up 5 Growlithes. I’m not so lucky. It’s Zubat central all the way between East Richmond and Burnley. I work, hoping that the cafe nearby would get its shit together and put a lure out on the Pokestop next to it (It does, but only once). And then it’s home time, where I miss my train because I see a shadow of a Kingler nearby and try to find it (I don’t). On the way home, I walk from Flinders to catch Magikarp, where the promenade is full of fellow PokemonGO players, huddled together against the cold under the Kings Way pass like teched up penguins. This crazy.

On the other hand, I haven’t walked so much in a single week, let alone a single day, in months. This has to be good right? Right? My sanity isn’t so sure.

I get home, where instead of working further on my freelance projects or starting on my next novel, I lurk on the lured Pokestop that happens to sit next to my apartment. In the Docklands, which has a high concentration of Asians, everyone’s Pokemoning deep into the night, despite freezing temperatures, light rain, occasional hail and high winds. At least we’re all being crazy together.

Notes from the PokemonGO front

If Niantic had set out to make a fitness app, they’ve been wildly successful. By some reports, PokemonGO is more popular than Tinder and even Twitter in some countries, with more engagement than Facebook. And when it opens in Asia in the next few days, its popularity is going to skyrocket. The Gods know how the servers are going to cope: even in Australia, it’s struggling. I’ve also heard stories about how it’s been a help to some of the mentally ill, by encouraging them to feel motivated to be active.

Of course, there’s been a downside as well. A friend’s apartment block has been swamped in Rhodes in Sydney by hundreds of players. There have been traffic accidents too.

That being said, I freely admit that I nearly became the world’s first PokemonGO fatality within 5 minutes of downloading the app on Friday, just by chasing a Charmander across the road from my workplace. Life has been wild.

Some little tips

There’s a PokemonGO map that you can check out and contribute to for locations. Docklands’ 3 lures is a pretty good bet for Magikarp, Crown as well. MCG for Growlithes. Flagstaff Gardens for Eevees. And if you’re into Dratini, apparently Maribyrnong River is good for that – not sure yet, we’re going to check that out on the weekend. If anything, PokemonGO has actually made me love Melbourne – and walking around Melbourne – more. This is a great little city, even if it’s hard sometimes to Pokemon with icy fingers.

Hope to see you guys out there! Stay safe.