Thirty minutes (and that's plenty) with Pokemon Go
Monday, August 8, 2016

By Greg Schwem

Tribune Content Agency
  Oh boy, am I gonna have FUN today! I'm gonna download Pokemon Go and join three quarters of the world's inhabitants - including my next door neighbor, his daughter, their cat, my plumber and maybe even LeBron James - who are wandering around the world staring at their phones while trying not to get hit by a city bus.
  First I'll install the game and give Google all the remaining information that, up until this moment, it hadn't already collected on me. Yes, Google now knows my garage door code and the contents of my refrigerator but hey, that's the price one pays when all this FUN awaits.
  I'll click right over that warning that says "remember to be alert at all times." Of course I'm going to be ... oops, I just stepped on my dog while learning what a Pokemon is, courtesy of Professor Willow. 
  Immediately he told me there was a Pokemon nearby. Wow, I didn't realize the FUN would begin so quickly. Usually I have to drive to my local golf course or tavern before experiencing such feelings of competition and joy. But I just flicked a Pokemon ball at a Pokemon named Squirtle and caught him, scoring 100 points in the process! And that was without turning on my phone's camera! Wait until I do THAT. This is way more FUN than I ever imagined.
  Now I have to enter a nickname that other trainers will use for me. I don't know what a trainer is, but who cares? Pokemon Go players don't ask questions like "Does anybody know my house is vacant right now because I'm out playing Pokemon Go?" That would interrupt the FUN. I'll call myself CluelessMon. Wait, no I won't. The good professor just told me to make another selection. Apparently an equally naive player beat me to that nickname. Instead, I go with WanderingDad53.
  Now Professor Willow is telling me about PokeStops, which he says can be found in "interesting places like sculptures and monuments." Not wanting to incur the wrath of my town's historical society, I opt to walk toward the first two Pokemon in my neighborhood, both appearing in public parks. 
  A shudder goes down my spine. Should I notify the local police department and tell them Pokemon may be violating our town's strict "no loitering" policy? Or should I handle this matter myself? I vow to do the latter.  But first I must return home and recharge my phone's battery, now running on fumes due to the presence of the Pokemon Go app. Temporarily pause the FUN.
  OK, I'm heading back to the park. Children are playing on the equipment but I appear to be the only Pokemon player, as I am the only park visitor alternately glancing between the park monkey bars and a photo of those same monkey bars, but also containing a Pokemon. Mothers are eyeing me cautiously. "Don't worry, I'm just playing Pokemon Go," I say. Now they are motioning their children to quickly leave the equipment because "it's time for lunch." Actually it's 10:30 a.m.
  Suddenly a Rattata, resembling a common rat, appears on my screen. I capture it; my iPhone's screen erupts with congratulations while my battery weakens yet again. Feeling smug, I quickly Google "Rattata" and discover that, of the 151 different Pokemon wandering the earth, Rattata is the most useless. And the easiest to catch.
  Vowing to not let this game consume my whole being, I return home, recharge the phone and tap the "help" screen. Suddenly all the FUN has gone out of Pokemon Go, for now I know that catching a lone rat near a jungle gym barely moves the FUN meter. I haven't yet caught an egg, a potion, a Great Ball or some incense. I haven't claimed an empty gym with my Pokemon or created a Lure Module. And when in the world am I supposed to incubate? All I know is I have somehow advanced to level two.  
  "You know," I think to myself, "Candy Crush is still pretty fun. So is Words with Friends. And those games don't drain my battery after 30 minutes."
  I uninstall Pokemon Go. Maybe I'll just sit in my backyard and admire the view.  Unobstructed by a floating Pokemon.
Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: "Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad" and the recently released "The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian," available at Visit Greg on the Web at
Printed in the August 7, 2016 - August 20, 2016 edition.

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