I Choose You, Pikachu!

What Pokémon Go did for one Seattle family

Last Saturday, my husband woke up, got dressed and said he would walk our dog Thor before running to Costco. Since I was still in my jammies, this was very welcome news. I drank my coffee and chilled. It was so nice.

Three hours later, my husband volunteered to walk Thor again. In my entire life, I have never known him to voluntarily walk the dog twice in one day. Only when he returned home did I realize what was going on.


“Heck yeah!” he said. “Check it out! I just got a Zubat and an Eevee!”

Oh, I checked it out alright. He also had a female Nidoran and a bunch of Drowzees. I immediately downloaded the game to my phone. 

Gotta catch 'em all

It is entirely possible that in the past three days my children have walked more than they did in the entire year of 2015.

For those who've somehow avoided all the hype, Pokémon Go is what happens when the classic Pokémon meets geocaching. The game uses Google Earth to map your location and hide Pokémon in your area. You must then venture out into the world to find them; they won’t often come to your house (believe me, we’ve tried). 

Once you find a Pokémon in the wild, you try and catch it. They’re hidden all over but often concentrated near historical markers or areas of significance in your neighborhood.

My daughter — who, just last week, begged for someone to carry her from the kitchen to her bed because it was "way too far" away — has planned a 4-hour walking tour of Edmonds, complete with snacks and side trips, which we will absolutely be taking this Saturday. Oh yes we will. 

Know why? Because Edmonds has a waterfront park. That waterfront park has a few historical markers and, most importantly, I don’t have a Psyduck. Team Dad got a Psyduck yesterday and Team Mom hasn’t lived it down since. We don’t even have a Krabby. All we’ve got is a bunch of Rattatas and some Pidgies. 

Pfft. Rattatas. 

So you're worried about an evil government takeover

But what about the huge government conspiracy? They’re mining your data! They’re using it for evil!


Look, I don’t want to point out the elephant in the room but Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, has seen a $7.5 billion (with a “b”) increase in stock prices this week alone. If this is a huge governmental conspiracy, doesn’t that imply that the United States government is capable of increasing its net worth by $7.5 billion (again, with a “b”) in a week? Does that sound reasonable?

I mean, it would certainly be impressive, but I don’t think it’s happening. I think the government has too many other concerns right now. And I’m not convinced that my family battling a Level 14 Spearow in the Trader Joe's parking lot is one of them.

Do I think my data is being mined and sold to someone? Sure, that’s reasonable. They told me as much when I downloaded the game. Do I think they’re doing nefarious things with it? I don’t think so, but I don’t know for sure. Am I supposed to? Is it not OK for me to simply safeguard what I can and then go enjoy the game without worrying about an impeachment of my privacy? Because I don’t really know how I’m going to get a Psyduck otherwise. 

All signs point to Go!

I’ll follow the privacy concerns as they develop but there are three Pokéball drops in the park across the road and we haven’t been there yet. At all. We’ve lived in this house 10 years and we’ve never been to the park across the street. Guess where we finally went last night?

It's all part of the dramatic metamorphosis my family has undergone since Saturday. Summer, you see, is historically when my children revert to their larval forms, staying holed up in their rooms for hours. Sure, they read. They do chores. They’ll even go outside if I tell them they have to, but they’ll complain the entire time. 

But now? They have pants on. Their teeth are brushed. They smile and leave the house willingly. In fact, it is entirely possible that in the past three days my children have walked more than they did in the entire year of 2015. 

And it’s all thanks to Pokémon Go.

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