What about Pokémon Go?

Posted on July 14, 2016 · Posted in Culture, Gaming


Pokémon Go has done something few electronic games have done: it gets users on the move. Nintendo has merged the real world with the virtual. Users, through the window of their portable gaming device, are out and about hunting for Pokémons, short for pocket monsters.

In 1996 Nintendo introduced the Pokémon phenomena in Japan. In 20 years Pokémon has indelibly stamped its impression on the gaming universe. Originally there were 151 of the pocket monsters to find. Today there are 718. The Pokémon home page estimates there are over 20 million daily users of Pokémon Go. There is a popular Pokémon TV cartoon show which has over 800 episodes and counting. Over 21.5 Billion Pokémon Trading Cards have been sold worldwide. You get the picture, Pokémon is a big deal!

Pokémon Go, using the clock and GPS features of smart phones, has users look for Pokémons virtually anywhere. You simply access the app and go out looking for the pocket monsters to appear on your screen. When a Pokemon is found, your job is to catch it. Businesses have found they can install a Pokémon module and people will come to their location looking for the visual creatures. One pizza restaurant near New Your City has seen its business jump 75% thanks to Pokémon hunters.

So, everything is good, right? Not really.

The trap in all gaming and fantasy pursuits the is lure of absorption. There is always one more Pokémon to find. This has been the particular of attraction of Nintendo gaming from the beginning. There is seemingly always another level to reach. Eventually a final level may be achieved, but only after a considerable investment of time. One can get lost in the pursuit, as evidenced by the young man who drove his car into a tree chasing a Pokémon.

The Proverbs speak directly to the use of time.

He who works his land will have abundant food,
but he how chases fantasies lacks judgement.
Proverbs 12:11

A hard worker has plenty of food,
but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.
Proverbs 28:19

In perspective, is spending 15 minutes chasing Pokémons a problem? Probably not. But spending hours chasing the illusive pocket monsters is not a good thing. Both of the Proverbs listed above contrast hard, productive work with chasing fantasies. Like most of the Proverbs the contrast drawn in these verses is not so much a contrast of right and wrong, but of wisdom and foolishness. The goal of Proverbs is to acquire wisdom at all costs (2:1-5). And to be fair, chasing fantasies applies to much more than Pokémon Go.

There is more to life than the pursuit fantasy and personal pleasure. The wisdom and knowledge of God is the one pursuit that will not end in frustration. Value it for yourself. Teach it to your children.


Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.