Pokemon GO is kinda boring

I remember being about 12 when Pokemon became a thing in the U.S. One day all the neighborhood kids were talking about pocket monsters and assorted oddities which I, having been homeschooled at the time, knew nothing about. I was quick to pick up on their excitement, though, and soon came into possession of my first Pokemon item: a small Pikachu stapler I found lying in the grass at a nearby park. For a whole day, that little stapler was my prized possession.

Sadly, Pokemon and I were never meant to be. My parents, having become aware of both my stapler and my growing interest in the fad, made a damning proclamation: that Pokemon were Japanese demons arrived on American soil to claim young lost souls, and I was to have nothing to do with them. I was told to throw away the stapler, but I couldn't quite part with it, so I hid it underneath a rock in a nearby wooded area instead. I'd sneak back to check on the stapler every so often, sometimes keeping it hidden in my pocket, treating my contraband like a particularly utilitarian pet.

At some point I worried I was tempting fate with my shenanigans and decided to part with little Pikachu, bidding it farewell and then chucking it into a creek where, presumably, it resides in a silt grave to this day.

What's the point of this little stretch down memory lane? It's to point out that I'm something akin to a unicorn amongst my peers — someone who knows nothing about Pokemon (except that Pikachu staplers existed in the late 90s) and who has no nostalgic yearnings to play Pokemon GO. That didn't stop me from downloading it, of course, but did give me a uniquely neutral position from which to approach it.

What kind of impressions does the game give someone entirely new to the franchise?

It's kind of boring

Don't hate me now, but after playing the game for a little while my first conclusion was that it isn't terribly exciting, and that's no doubt because I lack that aforementioned fondness and nostalgia to get started. I didn't know what a Pokestop is, and I'm not familiar with the characters. What was this purple creature now standing in my living room? No idea. I threw a ball at it and it disappeared in a streak of light and that was that. A screen indicated that other similar creatures were located outside of my apartment and that I simply had to get up and go to them. Eh.

The augmented reality tech is cool

That's not to say I can't appreciate the expansive and immersive nature of the game — really, blending together the fantasy world with the real world is a whole lot of fun and I can't wait to see more games like this in the future. Playing a game — at least playing Pokemon GO — eliminates the sitting alone on the couch aspect of games and makes them, quite literally, part of your life. You don't feel stiff and uncomfortable from sitting too long because you're outside getting fresh air, you're tapping some small primal instincts and literally prowling around on a hunt that hurts no one, you're getting exercise and burning calories, you're using your imagination and suspending your sense of disbelief. What's not to like?

I can certainly see why Pokemon fans are in love with the game. I imagine if I were a bit younger or more inclined toward cartoons, I'd be all over this game.

The social aspects are fun

With normal games, you call your friends and see if they want to come over and play with you. With Pokemon GO, you go outside and play and make new friends in the normal course of things. That's great. I never realized how many kids live around me until they all started stumbling around outside in search of Pokemon. I've witnessed strangers bond over the game at densely populated AR hotspots only they can see. Pokemon GO has single-handedly taken the cynic's foundation argument against video games and dashed its against the rocks — games don't have to be isolating and they can be a boon to your social network.

Really, it is this aspect of Pokemon GO that makes me jealous of fans. I wish I had the same history with the franchise that would enable me to enjoy walking around in search of monsters, only to bump into someone and strike up a passionate conversation twenty years in the making. While I don't, I'm happy for everyone who does, and I'm glad Pokemon GO exists. Even non-fans can appreciate the great things this game will no doubt bring about.