This is a Squirtle... and I don't care!
This is a Squirtle… and I don’t care!

By Collin Kelley

Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I don’t get the whole Pokémon GO craze.

I’m a video game nerd from way back when you actually had to go to an arcade to get your fix. I spent untold hours and quarters on Pac-Man, Tron, Galaga and my all-time favorite – Centipede. In my hometown, I had the high score at two different arcades for the entire summer of 1982.

When Atari released its first home-console (ah, that classic black plastic and fake wood veneer), I continued my obsession with Centipede and other games that came on boxy little cartridges. In the ‘90s, I upgraded to a PlayStation and was heavily into Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Alien, Grand Theft Auto and Silent Hill.

As the millennium turned, I became bored with the games. I briefly dallied with MineCraft a few years ago when it was all the rage, but after I quickly lost interest in that, I promised myself I wouldn’t get sucked into any more pop culture gaming phenomenon. That’s why Pokémon GO has zero interest for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have played Pokémon GO – for about 20 minutes. My BFF Karen downloaded it to her iPhone and one Saturday when we were walking to dinner in Kirkwood, she showed me how to play it. I was bored in 10 minutes. Sure, all the augmented reality stuff is cool, but I just couldn’t imagine myself blindly wandering down Intown’s streets waiting for Pokémon to pop out of the bushes.

The game is so big now in Atlanta that there’s a popular Facebook group that organizes meet-ups and gatherings  ( where players roam parks and neighborhoods looking for Pokémon. The best aspect of the game, in my opinion, is that it gets you out of the house and forces you to walk. I just wish the game was more interesting.

I was filling up my car at Buddy’s in Poncey-Highland a couple of weeks ago and this kid stopped right in front of my car, his head bowed over his phone, his finger making the familiar swiping motion to fire the Poké Ball to capture a creature. I thought he would move after I got in my car and started it up. Rather than beep my horn, I opened my door and gently said, “Hi, are you playing Pokémon?” The kid looked up at me with a glazed, goofy grin and said, “Yeah!” I smiled and nodded and then it dawned on him he was blocking my car. He slowly walked away down North Avenue, finger frantically swiping his smartphone screen.

I went over to Charis Books in Little Five Points and bought some books to take home, curl up on the couch and get lost in. That’s my idea of adventure these days.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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