“There’s a Mewtwo in the backyard. #PokemonGo” (Twitter.)
So I found out about Pokémon Go this past Saturday. I read about it on Twitter. Then we went to Point State Park, and saw a bunch of people walking around the Point staring at their phones the whole time.
“Yeah, they’re playing Pokemon,” Jonathan said.
I don’t game. I didn’t grow up gaming. I think that I made it to Level 2 or 3 in Super Mario Bros., and I never picked up any other Ninetendo product.
Also, I have a very sketchy understanding of Pokemon. Years ago, I briefly dated this guy who was really, really into Pokemon. He was also really, really interested in my good friend Jane. She decided to tell me while we were playing on a Ouija board. “Dick likes Jane,” she made the Ouija board spell. Then she pretended that a ghost did it. I’ve had zero interest in Pokemon since.
However, I have a major case of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. Since Pokémon Go is all over the news right now, I want to be a part of it.
Also, I work in downtown Pittsburgh and shortly we will travel a little bit. So – I’ll have access to a bunch of cultural landmarks. Or “Pokestops,” as PokemonGo calls them. PokemonGo players need to physically visit “Pokestops” in order gain tools. I’m curious about what things I see each day on my way to work, and which things I’ll see on vacation, are now “Pokestops.”
Finally, I really wanted to see what “Pokestops” are near my house, so that I can be prepared for any unfamiliar faces that show up in our neighborhood to play Pokemon.
Today I downloaded the Pokémon Go app.
And guess what: Parnassus has an abundance of “Pokestops!” Every photo in this blog entry is a Pokestop. I didn’t even put photos of all of them right here.
I’m torn about my excitement over having gamers visit these “Pokestops.”
For instance, take my feelings about the Parnassus World War I monument. My own family isn’t from New Kensington, and I’m not related to anybody named on the monument. However, my great-grandfather Gaffron lost his arm in World War I. He returned from the war and raised his large family on a farm in another part of Westmoreland County. With one arm. Every time I pass this monument, I picture a crowd of Lost Generation folks – dedicating it before they walk home to rebuild their lives.
And now it’s a destination in a Ninetendo game.
At the same time, this game will get people to get off their couches, and GO outside. To see our neighborhood. And maybe they’ll return for another look.
Postscript: After I dashed off this blog entry, I walked around the neighborhood to visit several of the neighborhood “Pokestops!” and also the neighborhood “gym.” (I signed up for PokemonGo less than 12 hours ago, so I am not even going to try to explain this right now.)
Anyway, during my walk I learned that a short distance from the Parnassus World War I monument is a second war memorial – the Parnassus Fallen Heroes Memorial.
A building hides this second war memorial from the street that I usually travel in this area, so I had no idea until today that it even existed!
I hope to learn more things about the history of this town from playing Pokémon Go.
(I am disappointed to read the landmark descriptions that accompany some of the local “Pokestops.” Some of these are very offensive to Parnassus and the people who live here. From what I understand, Pokémon Go operates on the same platform as a game called Ingress, so landmarks and their descriptions came from Ingress. I wonder if I personally know the jagoff who wrote these. A neighborhood Ingress gamer, perhaps? Jonathan and I are trying to figure out what we need to do in order to have these descriptions changed.)