Pokémon Go is finally here, and it's everything I've ever wanted. The augmented-reality game successfully makes me feel like I'm catching real Pokémon out in the streets of New York City, which is a fantasy I've had since I first played the original Game Boy game 20 years ago.
As great as the game is though, it's also made me insufferable.
Ever since I installed Niantic Labs' wonderful slice of digital happiness, I've become "that guy." The one who walks through the streets with his head glued to his phone; who will stop in the middle of the sidewalk regardless of who might be behind him.
I probably look like some sort of creepy voyeur as I point my phone's camera towards a crowded Manhattan block, but in reality, I'm just trying to catch an elusive Zubat. I've also found it much harder to get to work on time in the midst of trying to catch 'em all.
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I feel kind of bad about how obnoxious Pokémon Go has made me, but I don't regret my ever-growing Pokémon collection, or the wealth of Pokéballs and experience points I've racked up just by stopping in front of landmarks and statues. The only reason I've allowed Pokémon Go to destroy my normally decent digital etiquette is because it really is that good.
When you first fire up your phone and see a map full of Pokémon, Poké-landmarks and battling gyms that you can walk to in real life, it's hard not to feel a giddy, childlike sense of adventure. There's a certain thrill to seeing a virtual Charmander or Squirtle in the "real world" via your phone's camera, as there is when you flick a Pokeball to catch them. I've yet to feel the need to spend any real money on the free-to-play game, though that may change whenever I run out of Pokeballs or storage space for my pocket monsters.
And while Pokémon Go has given me some bad habits, it's also instilled some good ones. For starters, it simply makes me want to spend more time walking around outside, which is likely the entire point of the game. It's also encouraged me to take some alternate routes when heading to work or walking my dog, which has led me to discover some cool fountains, statues and buildings in my area (I was once rewarded just for walking past a building with a "Super Angry Face" which was hilarious). Pokémon Go is the perfect low-commitment game for a busy 27-year-old child such as myself, and has suddenly made the most mundane walking trips incredibly exciting.
My advice? Download Pokémon Go and live out your monster-catching fantasies to the fullest. Just don't become "that guy." Stay aware of your surroundings, don't let the game lead you into a sketchy part of town, and definitely don't Pokémon Go and drive. There's a wonderful world full of Pokémon adventures waiting for you -- just don't forget about the real world, too.