My First Pokémon Adventure

When PokémonGo came out a few weeks ago I couldn’t care less. I wasn’t a Pokémon fan; it hadn’t been a big deal in India, where I grew up, until recently. We never watched the show or played any of the games. However, between the news cycle and hype it got my attention. I read about people falling off cliffs and rushing around Central Park to catch rare Pokémons. Fake articles and memes exploded on my Facebook feed. The one about the M26 motorway in Manchester, England being blocked up because people got out of their cars to play the game certainly fooled me. For days I went on telling people about it. Then crazy statistics started flying around about how the game had more users and traffic than even Twitter.

I wanted in. But it wasn’t easy getting it — I tried downloading the game a couple of times and was told to check back later. Fed up with the game’s “playing hard to get” attitude, I gave up. A couple of days later — a friend stopped by for lunch with her 14-year-old little brother, and of course he’s playing the game. I got my first lick at the goods. Not one or two, but three Pokémon, popped by, and they kept coming. I don’t know whether it was that they were cute or that everyone from my newsfeed to my mother-in-law was talking about it — I needed in! So come the weekend I tried downloading it again. And a little blue squidgy guy popped up — a Squirtle — my first Pokémon. I was hooked.

My first Pokémon adventure was also my first experience playing a video game for more than ten minutes. No, I’m not against videogames I’m just really bad at them. I think it’s my lack of hand-eye coordination that gets in the way.

The first game I ever played was Snake. It’s a very basic game that comes with any Nokia phone. So, yes, we’re talking way back in the day. If your score was anywhere in the thousands you were considered very good. I’ve heard of incredibly gifted people having scores of 20K and up. My score was very low. Whatever you’re thinking, think lower. I’m not talking in the hundreds, I’m not even talking three digits — if you guessed 50 that’s still too high. It was 27.

Every single time I played, I died on the third move, either I banged my head against the wall or died the more dignified death — eating my tail. My ego can’t handle such glorious failure, and so I avoid playing videogames, even though I am married to a gamer — who works in the industry.

In the past four years Frank must have given me at least 1700 puppy-faces, trying to get me to play a video game with him, and somehow I’ve resisted them all! Indifferent to the Pokémon games, he was both shocked and giddy to learn of my new interest.

In a matter of minutes he downloaded it and of course had not trouble doing so. Then the better half of our Saturday morning was spent squealing over Zubats and Pidegys. (Frankly, I can do without Zubats, there are way too many of them and the flapping around is unnerving. If there were a way for me to trade my one and only Eevee in exchange for never having to see a Zubat again, I would do it in a sad flop of a Magikarp.

Coit Tower is just a 30min walk from our house. Our plan for the day was to go there, as I wanted to check out the murals for an article I was writing. Geared with an ulterior motive, however, our “adventure” lead us to walking around for over 5 hours.

It was the Pokéstops that derailed me. Pokéstops are specific geographic locations in the game, where you can collect specific items like Pokéballs, eggs, , incense, razz berries, etc, to help you catch more Pokeémon. Usually, the PokéStops are either of historical relevance, monuments or art installations, but sometimes they can also be just a neighborhood store.

San Francisco is full of the coolest historical gems. Here’s a list of my favorite PokéStops from that adventure:

The San Francisco Brewing Company — Comstock Saloon.

Tommaso’s a very popular Italian restaurant in North Beach is our favorite pizza spot. We must have gone there a least a couple of dozen times, and though I knew it was one the oldest establishments in the neighborhood, I had no idea of its historical significance.

The Mary Elizabeth Inn

Barbary Coast Trail Marker — The Barbary Coast was the red-light area of San Francisco during the late 19thcentury and early 20thcentury. The trail is designated by 170 bronze medallions and arrows embedded in the sidewalk and marks significant spots related to that time. [1]

Of course we all know San Francisco is steeped in history, and you don’t need an app let alone a video game to tell you that, but what’s cool about this one is that it does. My knowledge of videogames is certainly limited, but it’s the first one I’ve seen that makes players go outside and walk around. And though I haven’t yet got to the interactive level of the game — where one gets to “train” and “battle” other Pokémon and players, I found the experience itself very fun and interactive with those around me.

References: [1] Hoodline — An Introduction To The History Of The Bawdy Barbary Coast

Originally published at on August 5, 2016.