Games

Surviving COVID-19 Lockdown with ‘Pokémon Go’

Pokémon Go has Helped Keep me Moving

It would be no news to anyone that knows me that I’m not a fan of Pokémon Go, particularly when it debuted and my hometown of Norwich, England was invaded by Drowzees, and only Drowzees. That’s to say, opinions can change, and in exceptional circumstances, change rapidly. And with the onslaught of a horridly infectious virus, and a nationwide lockdown, I found time for a game that I had once dismissed.

The UK Government issued a lockdown several weeks ago, limiting people to their homes unless they needed to shop for essential items such as food, go to work where they can’t work from home, or, for the purposes of Pokémon Go, one exercise a day outside. I had recently been furloughed from my job, leaving me on a generous 80% salary package issued by the Government, but bored senseless nonetheless. My 4 am trips to the gym were closed, and beyond various home exercises using bags and a towel, I had to stay reasonably fit somehow and utilize my one outdoor activity.

It will be no surprise to anyone that has been playing Pokémon Go since its launch that it has changed rapidly – but it sure surprised me. All the Pokémon up until Unova have been added, and there are plenty more challenges to keep a bored man occupied during lockdown. Most importantly though, it’s made my one outside exercise a day much more entertaining. Where I would usually be doing quick sprints or a mindless jog, I now have a way to keep my brain entertained as I walk around my rural village.

It is perhaps both fortune and unfortunate that Norwich and its surrounding areas are so far away from reality that we are so far less affected by the virus than elsewhere. I did get symptoms several weeks ago but self-isolated immediately. Whether I had it or not isn’t known, but if I did, it is a particularly nasty disease that I can only plea for people to follow the advice: stay home, save lives. Coronavirus left me quite breathless, and I’m a healthy man in his early 30s. I can only imagine the devastation it would do to those much more vulnerable than I am.

This is why the lockdown has been issued, and why as gamers we should follow the advice and try a game we might have overlooked before. You would never get me playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons because I can’t stand pulling weeds every day, but I did give Pokémon Go another chance and I’m glad I did. While I can see myself uninstalling it again once the lockdown is over, for now, Pokémon Go has enough content to keep me sane on my daily exercise routine.

And this is perhaps the most important aspect of our one exercise a day outside limit: not just physical health but mental health. Pokémon Go has helped keep me moving while my local gym is closed. The closure of the gym was always going to deliver a bigger impact mentally than it was physically for me. I’m a creature of habit and enjoy my daily routine way more than a human should. Plus, with currently being furloughed, I have way more time than my mind can occupy.

Pokémon Go might be a repetitive mobile game that I found zero enjoyment for when it debuted, but in exceptional circumstances, exceptional changes can be made. So in a weird tribute, I would like to thank Pokémon Go for getting me through this lockdown, and thank all the essential workers out there working hard through these troubling times.

And most importantly, please remember: Stay Home, Save Lives.

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