Pokémon Go has done a lot of Great Things for My Family

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Pokémon Go has done a lot of great things for my family

Stories from the Spectrum

By Zachary Parrott

For those of you who are unaware, Pokémon Go is a popular free app for iOS and Android devices that first came out in July 2016. It is a location-based walking game, where the steps you take in real life also influence actions in the game. Instead of just walking inside, the twist with this game is that you get to go outside, walk to different areas and catch virtual creatures of all sizes and shapes called Pokémon. You can also train and battle in gyms and collect items to help you in the game. Though gameplay is incredibly simple, it is fun trying to catch all the Pokémon this game has to offer.

Pokémon started as a video game, created for the Nintendo Game Boy back in 1996. Many people don’t know that the creator, a man by the name of Satoshi Tajiri, is also on the autism spectrum. As a child, he was inspired by bug catching. As Japan got more and more urban, kids couldn’t enjoy bug catching the same way that Satoshi did as a child. So, he created Pokémon with the intent that people could catch and collect Pokémon in the same way as he caught and collected bugs as a child.

So, now that you have the necessary background information, what does this have to do with my family?

Ever since Pokémon Go has come out, it has allowed all of us to go out more, even taking some nights as a family to just go out Pokémon hunting. It has allowed myself and others to share our stories of going out into the world and finding these awesome creatures on websites and forums, or by word of mouth. But most importantly, it allows me to talk about a game I play to my parents that they can both understand.

For some background on my relationship with Pokémon, I’ve been a Pokémon fan ever since I saw them on TV, when I was about 3 years old. They were weird looking creatures, but I always liked them. I remember slowly growing more and more into the franchise as I got older. It started off with the occasional trading card pack here or there, as well as me watching the anime (and I used to watch a lot). But as I got older, my parents and friends gave me the actual video games for holidays, and these have only fueled my passion. Even today, as a 15-year-old that has a lot in front of him, I still haven’t left behind my old Pokémon games. I’ve only grown more into them as the years have progressed. They’ve provided a means of escape through hard times, a means of friendship when I’m lonely, and a great means of entertainment when I’m bored.

However, my parents have not shared the same enthusiasm I have. While they were never outright against me playing Pokémon, they never really had the time (or the interest) to really sit down and learn with me. Every time I would talk to them about it, it would be as if I was trying to speak a language to someone who doesn’t understand it. While they would always smile and try to understand as much as they could, they never really understood what I saying.

But this all changed with Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Go is an incredibly easy to access game. It’s easy to pick up, and it’s easy to get into. This low barrier to entry has allowed my parents to not only pick up the game, but understand it (even if only barely). It’s allowed me to connect with my parents that much more, especially Dad (who’s an Aspie like me), since he’s gotten really into it. It’s always fun to have conversations about your favorite video game characters with someone who’ll understand. And Pokémon Go has done just that for me.

So while Pokémon Go gets a lot of flak from people (and I honestly can’t see why), it’s done a lot for me and I’m thankful for it.

Zachary Parrott, son of Chris and Heather Parrott, is an Aspie teen living in Oregon. He greatly enjoys reading
stories, watching videos, playing video games, and visiting online forums and message boards. He’s even a
moderator for a website.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2016 print and online edition of Spectrums Magazine in our Stories from the Spectrum – Autism from an Autistic Perspective section.

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