5 Reasons Why Pokémon GO is the Best Game of the Summer

Pokémon GO has hit St. Louis like a summer storm. Everywhere I go, people are walking around, phones up, chasing rare Pokémon. Parks are teeming with people, even when the weather is in the 90s. Some folks worry that Pokémon GO might pose safety risks or security risks, but here is why I think this game is one of the best things that’s happened this summer.

1. Pokémon GO is helping me get fit!

I have been just killing my step count since downloading Pokémon GO. I hate exercising, and I usually average 7k or so steps each day, but Monday I got over 11k, and Tuesday 12k. By noon yesterday, I had gotten 6k steps. All of this movement is a very good thing. It’s easy to rail against video games and blame them for the obesity epidemic that plagues the US, but Pokémon GO requires you to get up and get moving. Today, I might be sore, but that means I am moving my body!

5 reasons why Pokemon Go is the best game of the summer.

2. Pokémon GO is getting kids outside!

It’s summer. It’s hot. The Grasshopper would much rather be indoors reading a book or chilling in front of the TV than playing outside. Not so anymore. Now she begs me to go for walks in the afternoons. Instead of parking her butt on the couch or in her room, she wants to be outdoors, exploring. And she isn’t ignoring the natural world in favor of the game environment either. She’s started having fun spotting robins, sparrows, and the other critters we’ve got running around our neighborhood. She pretends they’re Tailow, Spearow, Rattata, and so forth. Even Cricket is getting into the action, jumping into the picture with the Pokémon we find.

 

5 reasons why Pokemon Go is the best game of the summer.

3. Pokémon GO brings people together.

There are a ton of people at my office playing Pokémon GO, people I wouldn’t normally talk to or interact with. It’s not hard to spot them if you’re in the know. They’re walking along, phones in hand, or pausing at the PokéStop conveniently located right in the middle of our office. It’s been fun striking up conversations with folks. These are people who I haven’t said more than a hello or good morning to before, but now we’re talking best places to find Pokémon, who’s caught what, and how sore everyone’s legs are. There’s even talk of us all joining the same team to take on a gym near our office, and every so often, someone will call out over the cubicle walls, “Hey, there’s a venonat in the conference room.” or “Pikachu just out the side door!”

5 reasons why Pokemon Go is the best game of the summer.

My coworkers and I are not unique. Everywhere I go on social media I find stories of people making new friends with this game. In the south where I grew up, it’s common to strike up a conversation with the people around you. In fact, it’s often considered rude not to make eye contact and say hello, even to strangers. Here in the midwest, the culture is a little different. Sure you talk to people you know, but not some rando. These days, folks are saying hi to each other, stopping to chat and exchange tips, and just generally being friendlier. We all need a little more of that right now.

4. Pokémon GO is getting teenagers excited!

Our neighborhood is full of families, so I’m used to seeing teens hanging out by the pool, walking the dog, and bumming around looking bored. What I’m not used to seeing is them running around with excited smiles on their faces. Pokémon GO seems to transcend the usual high school cliques, too. It’s not just the geeky kids playing. It’s everyone! It feels so good to see kids running around and just being kids. Childhood is so short, and seeing these teens, who are on the cusp of adulthood, giving up trying to act like adults and just have fun really does warm my heart.

5 reasons why Pokemon Go is the best game of the summer.

5. Organizations are using Pokémon GOo to encourage people to help out in their communities.

This is the biggest thing to me. People are out walking and there are organizations like this animal shelter are jumping on the chance to encourage people to volunteer to walk their dogs.

5 reasons why Pokemon Go is the best game of the summer.

A vet clinic got in on the Pokémon GO fun and encouraged people to stop by their office to get their pet spayed or neutered while visiting the PokéStop out front. Churches are opening their doors to Pokémon GO players and offering water, charging stations, and fellowship. I cannot, in my life, remember a time when a video game brought people together like this.

5 reasons why Pokemon Go is the best game of the summer

I’ve seen a fair bit of naysaying about Pokémon GO, but for us, this game has been fantastic. I’d encourage you all to give it a try. Soon you’ll be hooked, and your legs will be sore too!

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Kids, Games, and Sportsmanship

I grew up playing games all the time with my parents. We played card games like Double Solitaire and Russian Bank. We played games like Boggle, Yahtzee, and Scrabble. Trivia games like Trivial Pursuit, Jr. Trivia, and more.

When I played with my parents, we all played hard. No one let anyone win. When I did manage to beat them at a game the victory was so sweet, but those wins were often far between. Sportsmanship was a very big deal in my family. I learned how to be a good loser and how to be a graceful winner. And you never, EVER cheat.

I’m trying my best to pass that along to my kids.

Games, in St. Louis, are a huge thing! There are gaming conventions, game nights, and groups that get together regularly to play. I always felt like such an oddball for liking to play games so much, so it’s cool to discover that there are other adults who love playing as much as I do.

It’s been fun discovering new games with my kids, but inevitably, we’ve run into problems with sportsmanship, so here are our family’s rules for fair play:

  • Cheating is never tolerated. When someone cheats (which has never happened) the game is over. Period.
  • Accusations of cheating as a means of expressing frustration for the outcome of a game or turn are never tolerated. Cheating is a charge we take seriously, and it’s not an accusation to be bandied about.
  • It’s okay to feel disappointed, but it’s not okay to pitch a fit and behave rudely to other players when things don’t go your way.
  • It’s great to celebrate a win, but it’s never okay to gloat.
  • Everyone plays as hard as they can to win.

Really, for my family, it’s the same as sportsmanship in an athletic event. You congratulate the winner and encourage the ones that lose, and we teach this by example. Although, my husband tends to “jokingly” accuse people of cheating which earns major side-eye from the rest of us. We’re working on that one.

I do my best to teach them strategy, just like my parents did with me. On my turn, I explain why I chose certain moves over others, and sometimes we play “open-handed” so I can give them pointers on why some cards might be better to play than others. But if they beat me, they know that the win was truly earned. The smiles on those faces are wonderful to see!

The girls are learning. Winning is fun, but losing can be tough. Last week, the Grasshopper made a really bad decision at the start of a new game we got the day before. I mean, it was a colossal mistake, and it immediately cost her the game. In a dramatic way. The tough thing was, she had to hang in for 30 or so minutes until the game finished, watching the rest of us pull farther and farther ahead. She shed some disappointed tears. Not tantrum-y tears. Just sad ones. But she hung in there and finished the game. It never crossed her mind to quit, and for that I am so proud of her.

When it was all over, we hugged and talked about what had happened and why she had lost, and we came up with some strategies for next time. I told her how impressed I was about how she played her hardest until the end. She was still sad, but she’s looking forward to playing again, and that’s the most important thing.

These are some of the new games we’ve found. They’re pretty well known, but they’re new to us and tons of fun!

  • Hey! That’s My Fish – Cricket got this for her 4th birthday from a friend and it is a favorite! There’s enough strategy that it’s engaging for me, but it’s simple and requires no reading, so it’s great for little ones, too.
  • Ticket to Ride – We don’t actually have this one, but we got it for my parents for Christmas and we all LOVED it. We were all able to play, even Cricket, although for her to play, we either had to put her on someone’s team or play open-handed. My husband and I are thinking of picking up one of these for us!
  • Ninja Camp – We got this through their kickstarter and it arrived last week. We’ve only played it a few times, but so far it seems to be a hit! This one is tough for Cricket, though, because of the reading involved.
  • Munchkin – This is one that is best for the Grasshopper and I to play. My husband gets frustrated with the complicated rules and doesn’t find the cards amusing. He doesn’t have the same love of role playing games that I do. It definitely requires reading skills, so Cricket is not able to play. Honestly, I’m still figuring it out, but the Grasshopper and I have fun with it.
  • Machi Koro – This was the one that the Grasshopper lost so bad at last week. Poor thing. Awful loss aside, this is a fun game, although Cricket needs tons of help to play. Even though Cricket can’t read the cards and mostly just guesses, and even though the strategy has been a challenge for the Grasshopper, it’s still a fun one that even my husband likes.
  • Race to the Treasure – This is definitely one for the kids, but it’s cooperative which they enjoy. It’s simple enough that they can set up and play it by themselves.
  • Cauldron Quest – Again, this is a kid’s game, but it’s got enough complexity that Cricket needs a bit of help remembering the rules. They both enjoy playing it with me, and it’s cooperative so it’s fun to see them working together toward a goal.
  • Pokemon – Yeah, you read that right. the Grasshopper and I get serious playing Pokemon TCG. That’s “The Card Game” if you’re unfamiliar. It is surprisingly fun, and she’s gotten great at adding, subtracting and multiplying in her head with this one.

I really want to try Catan, but I think we may have to get the Jr version of the game. I also want to get Pandemic, but I’m holding out for the Cthulhu version. I have the feeling this one will not be one the kids can play, though. I’m also curious about Forbidden Island/Forbidden Desert. I’ve heard that one is playable with children.

Do y’all have any favorite games to recommend? How do you handle winning, losing, and sportsmanship when you play?

 

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