To the geniuses behind Pokemon Go…
…you have my lifelong gratitude!
There are so many awesome things about this game, despite some of the more unfortunate aspects that have been reported over the last few days.
Honestly, it has been a positive addition to our family so if you are not familiar with Pokemon Go yet, here is a rundown on the game and it’s benefits for families, including autism families.
About Pokemon Go
For those of you not familiar with the phenomenon that is Pokemon Go, it’s an augmented reality geocaching game where players look for Pokemon in their daily life.
Available as an app for mobile devices (on both Apple and Google Play), Pokemon Go encourages players to capture as many Pokemon as possible, who can appear anywhere, at anytime.
See? Pokemon can appear anywhere, at anytime…
For instance, Pokemon could appear in your house, yard, local park, shopping centre, neighbouring streets or friend’s houses. The fun of the game is in the anticipation and in the chance to explore familiar places with new eyes.
The aim of the game is to capture as many Pokemon as possible using Pokeballs, which appear on the screen near the Pokemon themselves. Once captured, the Pokemon appear in your Pokedex, your index of Pokemon. With 250 Pokemon to collect, there is a lot of fun to be had with this game.
You can even have fun with the camera, capturing the capture
Each Pokemon can evolve into a more sophisticated species when you collect multiples of the same Pokemon. So collecting duplicates (which is inevitable) is not a problem in this game as they are a valuable way to gain XP (experience points) and evolve more powerful Pokemon.
This is especially important when you move up levels, start battling other Pokemon and challenge for ownership of gyms (set in real life locations). Pokestops are also real life locations where players can obtain items for use in the game, including Pokeballs and eggs, which hatch revealing a new Pokemon for your collection.
This is where the true beauty of the game is revealed. In order to hatch, eggs need to be incubated and incubation is linked to the amount of kilometres (or miles) you walk. The more you walk and the further you travel, the more eggs hatch, the more Pokemon are located and the more fun is had.
I love this game already.
Why Pokemon Go is perfect for families
In the 3 or so days we’ve been playing, we have clocked up nearly 20 kilometres in our hunt for Pokemon. That sort of activity is unheard of in our house.
Matilda looking tired after our first full day playing Pokemon Go
I’ve tried getting the whole family to go to Parkrun with me each week. I’ve tried to suggest walking to the park and exploring our local environment. But no-one is especially keen and on the few occasions we’ve tried, it’s been miserable for everyone.
With the advent of Pokemon Go, the kids have been more than happy to go out exploring, even Gilbert. In fact, Matilda (the longtime Pokemon expert in our family) has clocked up more kilometres over the weekend than she probably had in the entire year to date!
Even Gilbert has got in on the fun
Apart from the undeniable health advantages to this phenomenon, we’ve also enjoyed more time together. As we’ve walked around our local neighbourhood we’ve been able to chat about all sorts of things. It’s also been awesome having rare one-on-one time with each of my children.
We’ve also loved the chance to explore our suburb too. We found a new playgroun plus an amazing aboriginal park tucked in a corner of our neighbouring estate, filled with plants used in all aspects of traditional aboriginal life. Matilda and I enjoyed reading about each one and how each part of the plant was used in different ways.
Why Pokemon Go is perfect for kids with autism
I can also see so many ways this can help kids with autism. As Pokemon Go is an international phenomenon it means there are heaps of people out there playing the game which provides a platform for a common interest. This is similar to Minecraft, but on a far larger scale.
With public Pokemon walks being organised in many different locations, for players young and old, it’s a potential opportunity to connect with other players in real life. It also represents a way to find some common ground with new friends, beyond a computer screen.
It’s brought technology and gaming to the mainstream. With many of our kids dependent on technology for communication, entertainment and direction, Pokemon Go has finally found a way to make technology and gaming fun and accessible for all.
As already mentioned above, the health benefits are huge. I know my ASD kids are addicted to screens and find comfort and calm inside the home. Being able to lure them outside with the fun of a virtual scavenger hunt has been life changing. And keeping them motivated to move with the prospect of acquiring more Pokemon is simply genius.
Which brings me back to my original statement – to the geniuses behind Pokemon Go, you have my lifelong gratitude!
Have you tried Pokemon Go yet? Are you as impressed with it as I am?
Linking up with Jess for #IBOT.