I'm a Brown, Unashamed, 32-Year-Old Pokémon Master in the Making (Don't Hate)

Angel Luna remembers the first time he watched Pokémon as a kid. Now as an adult, he reflects on how that excitement he first felt has shifted to a high respect of processing the connections made playing in real life through augmented reality with the Pokémon Go app game.

I am a brown 32-year-old man who is not ashamed to look for rare Pokémon. I don't have any excuse besides being young when Pokémon first came out. I still remember being excited about the cartoon airing in Mexico while I was in the transition of leaving my hometown of Oaxaca to move back to my birthplace on the other side of the Rio Grande. I used to catch episodes here and there, and I really tried getting into the card game, but due to my limited English at the time I was not able to participate and enjoy the madness of that popular game. 

The minute the Pokémon Go commercial dropped the nostalgia factor played an important role in the hearts of a lot of enthusiasts. I was moved by the fact that thanks to this technology we have at our fingertips we would be able to fulfill the dream of becoming that Pokémon trainer we followed as kids. I downloaded the game right after it came out, it was unbelievable, and I began my journey as a Pokémon trainer in the making.

I thought I was going to look like a weirdo playing, but to my surprise a lot of friends my age were also playing Pokémon Go. We would meet up to play and shoot the breeze at a local park. Parks are where all the action happens and to me it’s always cool to see people out and about – just the fact that they're out of the house is a good start.

During the downtime of the game, I observe people's interactions, and to my surprise it was not only the typical nerdy guy playing Pokémon Go, there were also folks that you might never imagine playing the game.

Once I saw a dad who looked like someone who could be targeted by law enforcement because of his appearance and face tattoos. The dad was walking with his son and looked super engaged. He was also schooled by a very nerdy guy about the in's and out's of the game and given pro tips that only a Pokémon master would know. The interaction of this big fella made me smile. He looked very lost catching Pokémon but he was super polite and friendly with everyone, especially to his son. I can honestly say that he was excited about being part of his son's life just by looking at him.

This became a talking point with one of my friends who also shared that he and his daughter sometimes take drives to catch Pokémon around town. I have a soft spot in my heart for parents like this. I'm not a parent, but I can assure you that nowadays it's very hard to be a good parent because there's so much going on that it can be hard for some folks to make a clear connection with their kids. We live in an era where technology creates barriers that keep us not present in the presence of others, but Pokémon Go is connecting people across generations.

And I get the critique of Pokémon. There are more important things out there to be engaged in. Yes, you're right. And as the recent tragedies that have occurred to the people who happen to be playing Pokémon are disturbing. As an avid Pokémon trainer I have walked to different areas at different times of the day to try to catch rare Pokémon. The only thing that I do is I follow street etiquette and that’s basically being aware of where you are at. I have walked around town at 3 am looking for beat gyms and I have encountered people who are not playing Pokémon, but they're definitely on a mission to do something else. What I make a point to do is look up to acknowledge or just make sure we are aware of each other.

And especially given the tragedies that have occurred, why do some people like Pokémon Go so much? It's a social game where you meet up with friends to play. It opens avenues for people that might have a very difficult time making friends or breaking out of their shell. I know a few folks who have a very difficult time making friends. My girlfriend is one of them, she's introverted and her anxiety kicks in very often. It's not that she doesn't have things to talk about, she graduated from Mills College with high honors, but her shyness sometimes holds her back. When she had a Pokémon Go account she actually did pretty well. She was loving the social aspect of asking people if they were playing or if she found a rare, strong Pokémon she would share by shouting "Hey there's an Abra right here!" or "Did you get a Bulbasaur too?"

I saw her doing great with people and that made me really happy because I want her to face her fears and become even stronger. I'm a very outgoing person and extremely social so I can't imagine how painful it can be to meet new friends. For people that might not have a way to make new friends I think this is gold.

We all have something we hate about social media and the expanding role technology is playing in our lives, but don't hate on the Pokémon Go master in the making. Appreciate it, and if you'll excuse me, I have to go and catch them all!


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Photos: Sonido Clash at Summer Garden Series

This article is part of the category: Arts & Culture 
This article is part of the tags: Anxiety  / Faterhood  / Pokémon  / Pokémon Go  / Social Media 

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