BIG GOALS and tiny details

Big Goals are made up of tiny, individual struggles. They can wear you out, and how to perhaps manage the struggle.

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Goals are really easy. Think of the “big goals” and the crap you tell yourself when you’re a kid that you’ll do as adult. Become a doctor. Go to college. Travel to Europe or Asia. Have a family and a few kids. Start a business. Or, crazily enough, perhaps start a personal blog. I mean they’re easy because they’re basically straightforward goals. You just have to make progress towards the goal. But the strange and really crummy part is there is little to no glory chasing your dreams on a day-by-day basis. These dreams and goals that are wonderfully glorious in and of themselves are really made up of a bunch of tiny and mundane things that are where the actual work and struggle exists. Big dreams are easy, but they’re made up of hundreds and thousands of tiny, boring, and mundane struggles which is where things can become difficult.

 

A Blog Example

As I’ve stated in my last post, this site, theblackhairedguy, has been rather derelict for the past half year as I’ve started a new blog over at EverythingSucks. And as stated, that blog has more of a vision than this one does; theblackhairedguy was always meant as an introductory experiment where I actually learned what the hell I was trying to. Having sort of accomplished that, I wanted to move on to a blog with a vision and try to be very professional about how I went about it. I had a well-defined goal finally.

And I found that, duh, the primary goal of “Making a Successful Blog” really had a bunch of other smaller goals that make it up. You might even call them “Intermediate Goals” because even if they are more specific than “Make a Blog,” they still are rather general. My point here is that you can’t just “go out and make a blog” anymore than you can just “go out and get a doctorate in quantum electrodynamics” (well you can but it will probably be shit). Here’s a quick list off the top of my head regarding some intermediate goals to making a blog:

  1. Find a good blog name
  2. Find a good domain name
  3. Format the blog properly
  4. Find a decent logo or banner to represent yourself
  5. Write good posts
  6. Make a Facebook page
  7. Market the Blog
  8. ….
  9. Blog is Successful!

What you’ll probably realize is that these steps are still too general to pick away at and that they still become complicated as you try to chip away at these smaller goals. Take step number 4, “get a logo.” It sounds easy but once you get at it, you realize that you now need to account for image sizes: Facebook has a square profile so the logo must be square for that page, and the WordPress banners dimensions vary based on what design you go with, so immediate the simple “logo” step is complicated by image dimensions, formatting, and the like. Facebook also has differing image dimensions for cover photos for mobile and desktop. How do blog post banners format when you share them in Facebook? How do you make sure you can keep the same colors? Does the program you use use hex code colors? What the hell even is hex codes? If it doesn’t, can you convert to RGB colors to keep things the same? Does the banner and logo even look nice? Even if it’s formatted properly you can’t have it look like shit. Here’s a list of all the crap I ran into when designing logos and banners for EverythingSucks:

  1. Have your sister make a logo because she’s better at design than you are
  2. Discover Facebook cover photo dimensions and proper formatting
  3. Ask sister to make new banners and logos in the correct dimensions
  4. Sister is kind of a slacker and doesn’t follow through
  5. Ask sister what program she used to make the images (Phonto)
  6. Attempt to reverse-engineer original banners to create my own
  7. Take image ratios and find proper pixel dimensions
  8. Use online program to find colors in hex code
  9. Discover Phonto doesn’t do hex code colors
  10. Convert hex code into RGB colors by using some website
  11. Finally succeed in making banners, logos, and cover images that are up to par!

Obviously that was really complicated and a pain in the ass. That’s my point though: these intermediate goals are filled with some total bullshit that you’d rather not worry about. What started as a general goal of having a blog somehow led me down the path of converting hex color codes into RGB and downloading Phonto onto my Samsung phone. It was challenging too and I thought about giving up a bunch of times. When I started off on the blog creating journey, I wouldn’t even think that I’d spend days trying to reverse engineer a perfect logo and become frustrated with how little blogging I was doing in trying to make a blog. But a decent logo and banners are still really important and I had to pick away at it.

 

Getting Bogged Down and Managing It

What you can probably guess can and will happen is that you’ll sort of get lost in the woods on these tiny small steps. Making a logo is a pretty important aspect of having a blog and a brand, so you want it to look nice. But if you get too carried away at it you’ll never make any progress! There’s a perfect balance to be found between the small mundane goals and your primary goal: you can’t half-ass the tiny goals and have a successful primary goal but you also need to know when to move on with the smaller crap. Think of a road trip: you have to focus on your destination and not get bogged down visiting shitty tourist traps along the way. But that’s a shitty analogy anyways so whatever.

I take inspiration from Elon Musk here I suppose. In case you don’t know who he his, he’s the CEO of SpaceX, Tesla Motors and did some stuff with PayPal way back in the day. Here I’m going to talk about his vision for Tesla Motors. You can imagine how difficult it is starting and running a successful car company, but he made a “master plan” of sorts with regards to Tesla Motors. The link is to the “part two” master plan, but details the first one. If you don’t want to use the link, it says:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car
  4. And…
  5. Provide solar power. No kidding, this has literally been on our website for 10 years.

This company has been around for over ten years and step 3 in the plan, build an affordable high-volume car, has basically just been accomplished this week as the first Model 3 vehicles were delivered to customers. If you’re aware of the company, you might know that step 1 is the Tesla Roadster, and step 2 is the Model S. My point here is that he made a master plan with 3 (4 or 5?) steps that was his basic outline for the entire company for a decade. And while the plan hasn’t been smooth sailing at all points in time, you have to admire how well it has been followed with me able to name the exact vehicles that satisfied the steps! Now remember how terribly complicated it is to manage a company and admire the clarity of the plan…

I think this technique would work well in almost all areas with the only downside that I can see is if your “master plan” has flaws that aren’t realized yet. An example would be going to college for a career that would soon be in decline; it’s could be the most detailed and well-executed plan ever, but if you deliberately end up in a shitty field that’s you’re problem and not the plan’s fault. So the plan should be somewhat flexible and open to new ideas, but it should also be your guideline to follow when you start to get bogged down in the minutiae of daily bullshit challenges. Imagine if you’re going to college for the first time. It probably sounds really complicated when you get down to the details, but in reality all you have to do is find a school, apply, take classes, and pass the classes! Easy, right?! I’m just saying that when you’re trying to figure out how to schedule an entrance exam or figure out financial aid or finish a research paper, it sure would help to have a big, golden “GO TO COLLEGE AND FINISH A DEGREE” plastered on a wall in your room, or even mentally in your mind to keep your focus. That’s how it’s been with blogging, and apparently with every remotely complicated goal ever in life. Keep your focus and make it through the daily challenges!

It’s Been Awhile…

Black Haired Guy reflects on the state of his derelict blog.

It’s been nearly six months (or so?) since I wrote my last post on here, and it was sort of an easy post to just toss out there; it was something fairly safe and typical. And I haven’t written a damn thing for this blog since. It makes me feel kind of sad looking back on it, as apparently I have quite a few followers and have had quite a bit of views; things were actually starting to look up for me on here and it’s sad to see how I’ve let it all sort of drift away and fall apart, especially since it was my first attempt at blogging. But maybe all of that negativity isn’t actually necessary quite yet.

What really happened was I started a new blog titled Everything Sucks that is over at the wonderfully titled everythingsucks.blog ( I put the effort into an actual domain name!). I finally figured out a theme I could run with that sounded good, and could churn out post after post that were all related to a common theme: everything in life sucking. You see, this blog here, theblackhairedguy, was my first blog and was meant as an experiment; as you all know, you need to start every journey somewhere and starting is always an awkward and painful experience. And so that’s what this blog is. Like I said in the about page, I never had much of a plan and always intended to work things out as I went along, and that’s exactly what I did. Many of these posts had a common theme — a sort of reflection on many various facets of life — and while they varied quite a bit, I think there was still something underlying them all, even if I can’t exactly put it into words.

As I said, I have this new blog over at Everything Sucks and I think it is a much more professional job and that things are tidier over there. I even have set banners for blog posts! I’m working from a single theme — everything sucking — and this naturally keeps things coherent as all posts must be from a certain point of view. Check it out and follow if you’re interested! Despite this project that I’m proud of, there are some things I write that are more reflective than statements about life and how it sucks…like sometimes you need to just think aloud write about things instead of always trying to prove a point. There seems to be certain things I write that seem to fit this blog’s perspective on things rather than showing how they suck, and while they do suck, I tend to think that this might be a more introspective blog than Everything Sucks, and that they may be able to coexist.

My main problem is that of time; it’s hard to focus on two blogs as well as the bunch of other random shit I do in my life. But coming back on here has left me with a realization that I have plenty to write about on here away from the purposeful pessimism of Everything Sucks. While I’m not promising anything, I might have to start posting some things on here again. And if you happen to read this, well, thanks for taking the time, especially since it’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve posted.

Video Games are a Waste

Everyday I wake up and tell myself that the day will be different: that I’ll get up and do something. I don’t really know what the do something is, but I think we all sort of know what it means. Usually we wake up, cook breakfast, take a shit, go to work, get the kids off to school, and whatever else it is that we do. It’s what we do, and we do it mindlessly. It’s the idea of routine, the regular, and the mundane that we usually occupy our lives with. So when I say to do something, I mean making something special of the day. And I usually fail miserably at it.

There’s these things called video games that are sometimes (usually) the bane of my existence. The problem I have with video games is that they’re sort of productive, but not productive in the way that I actually want to be productive. They’re a shitty middle ground of productivity, nothing notable in the grand scheme of things like finding a new job or applying for college but notable enough that I feel my day wasn’t a total waste of existence.

Life is short, we get old, and we die (I’m starting this year off in a great mood as you can tell). We all know this. But in the day to day scheme of things, we act like we don’t really care about that fact. One of the most hated things to me is passive TV watching. You know, where you turn the TV on, plop down, and just watch whatever it is you can find on TV. You might not even like the damn show, but you’ll watch whatever just to pass the time. I hate this with a passion, because like I said, we’re all going to die and sitting watching TV seems like a terrible way to use THE ONLY LIFE YOU HAVE. Let’s do something notable, alright?

I want to wake up, write a story, get it published, and help change other people’s lives for the better. Or get rich and build a homeless shelter. Or install rain barrels for people. Ya know, the proverbial something. Or at least fill out a couple of job applications. This is the optimum productivity I’d like to achieve, but this level of dedication is pretty hard. People are lazy and scared of the future. When everyday that you live seems so typical and ordinary, turning one of these days into a day where you act on your future dreams is really scary. Like of all days, what if today is the day that I write the story that will finally get me published? What if today is the day that I realize I’m really good at something? That’s terrifying. Terrifying in a good way, but still scary. As boring as a typical day is, at least it’s a boring that I’m used to and comfortable with.

But back to the video games. I differentiate them from TV watching because they are interactive and tell a story. And sometimes this story is a magnificent story that rivals that of some movies. You actually have to make an effort to beat a video game, and it seems quite a bit more productive to do this than to veg out on the couch with whatever-the-fuck is on TV. The problem with this is that it really isn’t productive at all. Yeah, you’re making progress, but you’re making progress in a video game that will have no bearing on your future at all. When you die, you’re not going to say, “Wow. I sure am glad that instead of starting my own business I played Bioshock: The Collection. I mean at least I didn’t watch TV!” It’s lame.

So that’s my problem with video games. By playing them, I feel like I’m making progress in the world, and I am sort of, but it really doesn’t matter. I’ve had an Xbox 360 for years and got all sorts of achievement. But guess what? I have a PlayStation 4 now and those achievements are all for nothing. For all purposes I could’ve just taken a fuckton of naps throughout the years. On a scale from 1-10 where 1 is watching mindless TV, and 10 is starting your own business, video games are like a 3. Or maybe a 4. Or maybe a 2 when you consider that the sun will consume the Earth in a few billion years. I don’t hate video games, and I hope no one thinks that because I really do love them. That’s kind of the problem. It’s just that when I don’t do shit in my day and plop down to play Minecraft I feel like an unproductive piece of shit. Maybe it’s just me though.

Hey, at least I wrote a blog post about it though!

Why Life Sucks (At Various Ages)

My wife and I were sitting at the local high school waiting to pick up one of the kids. Of course, she was late at coming out of the school, and we had about ten minutes to just watch high school kids wander out to the parking lot. It was pretty interesting: you have the cool looking kids, the hip kids, the seniors walking around like hot-shit to their junky-ass cars because they can drive, and the awkward kids looking, well, awkward. I thought back to my own high school times and thought, “High school sucked. I’m glad I’m past that stage of life.”

Remember that question that get’s thrown around sometimes, “What age would you like to be if you could be any age?” Whenever I think of that question I always assume I’d say my current age. I don’t think this because of any real reason, it is just that thinking back to me at a past age or me at a future age sounds shitty. Being a kid was shitty, being a teen was shitty, being an adult is shitty, and while I’m not a senior citizen yet, I’m going to assume that it will be–you guessed it–fairly shitty. So with seeing the high school kids and thinking that was a shitty time, and thinking that all other ages was a shitty time, I came to the generalization that life is just shitty. The point here is that life sucks for differing reasons at each age category. There are pros to being certain ages, but there are also some major cons that take all the fun out of any benefit the age itself provides. Let’s journey through life and go over why it all sucks.

Being a Newborn/Toddler Sucks

I don’t think anyone wants to be a newborn or a toddler. I know I wouldn’t even think of returning to that age of my life. I’m considering this age to be from birth until four or five, maybe right before you head off to school. The coolest thing about being this age is that life is totally epic. You’re learning stuff at a crazy pace and everything you do is the first time you’ve done it! Just think how a newborn or toddler feels to see snow for the first time, feel rain, or even get their hand burned by a hot stove; everything is a completely new thing and there is so much to see and learn and the world is one big adventure. Sure you can’t really do a whole lot, but you don’t know or care because spinning in circles is still the coolest thing ever, even if you bang your head into the coffee table afterwards.

This stage of life has a major downside: you don’t actually remember any of it. There is some theory in philosophy (although I forget the proper title) that states that as long as your memories are continuous that you are the same person. Or something like that. It’s all about answering the question of, “What makes you you?” Anyways, memory is a big aspect of who you are, and outside of this theory you know it plays an important part of your view of your self. If you don’t remember something it’s almost as like it’s never happened. There may be consequences and everyone else remembers what you’ve done, but to you it’s like you didn’t even exist if you don’t remember it. Just think of a time where you became so drunk you blacked out. You can hear about things you’ve done, but you don’t remember any of it so it seems like it’s all from a story where the main character was you. Either way, you still seem pretty divorced from what happened because you simply don’t remember it. It’s like the movie The Hangover. All of these dudes did some crazy shit but since they don’t remember anything, it doesn’t even exist to them anymore. This is how being a toddler is. The world is a big, cool, amazing, and wonderful place but it doesn’t matter because most of us don’t remember shit from that time. Looking back from my perspective, it’s like toddler me didn’t even exist.

Childhood Sucks

Being a kid is an amazing thing from an adult’s perspective. When a kid bitches, adults occasionally say something like, “Why are you complaining? You’re life is simple! You don’t have bills, a job, etc.” This all boils down to one key difference between being a kid and being an adult: responsibilities. Kids don’t have shit to worry about. Their parents (or any other authority) take care of everything for them. Food, shelter, transportation, bills, and clothes are all provided by the adults. Kids don’t have to worry about anything. The worst thing a kid has to worry about is farting in class and getting laughed at. Their lives should be a huge pile of fun and games and should be a magical time and for the most part it is. So why do I think being a kid is shitty?

Kids don’t know what responsibilities feel like. They can’t appreciate their responsibility-free life because they don’t know how shitty responsibilities actually are. For this I’ll bust out some Taoist wisdom. They believe in “the way” and how shit just sort of “flows” for lack of a better word. A key idea is that things exist in pairs with their opposites; each is dependent upon the other to exist. You can’t have happiness without having some sadness to compare it to. If everyone was happy, no one would know it and it would be the new normal. There can’t be rich people without poor people, and there can’t be daylight without a night. This is how it is with responsibilities; kids haven’t had to live with any so have no idea how easy their lives actually are. It’s pretty sad really, and it’s why I never try to use this logic on kids if they complain. They don’t give a shit how many bills you pay or how much gas you spend driving them around because they don’t know how shitty it is doing those things day after day. That pretty much negates childhood being a great time. It was a meh time, because you didn’t know it was a really easy time until it was over.

Being a Teen Sucks

Being a teenager is probably the best actually. It isn’t the most amazing time period but it doesn’t suck too much. I guess it isn’t the holy grail of joy that everyone seems to think it is. I’d say the best part of being a teenager is you get the best of both worlds of being an adult and a kid; you sort of have some freedom but it isn’t hampered by the blatant amount of responsibilities you have as an adult. You’re free to do as you want, but not too free to actually be expected to care for yourself completely. It’s pretty nice.

The worst part about being a teen is the hormones. Everything is drama. Everything has an inflated about of importance. It’s nuts. Your crush in high school talks to you about something mundane and you flip the fuck out about it. “Holy shit, maybe they like me!” Or if you talk to them and they’re busy and have to leave, “OMG, why did they do that? Do they hate me?” It’s a rough time with that aspect. It’s like your emotions are ultra sensitive. With that, and looking forward to adulthood is very scary. If you flip out over some stupid shit at school how are you going to deal with adulthood? That shit is scary. What you don’t know is that when you are an adult you start to not give too much of a shit as you used to in high school. If your crush talks to you in adulthood you get slightly happy, but you don’t get your hopes up. You learn to shrug things off. This is missing when you’re a teenager, and that is why I’d never want to return to that stage of life. I like not feeling that everything is the end of the world.

As a teenager you also have the pending nightmare of adulthood coming up. You have to decide where to go to college, what career to have, among countless other things. I know I didn’t know anything at 17, so asking me to plan the next 40 years of my life was terrifying.

Adulthood Sucks

Adulthood is long enough that I split it into two parts: early and regular adulthood. Early adulthood is right after high school, or during or after college. It’s when you’re just figuring shit out. This part is nice because you’re an adult, you can do whatever the fuck you want! If you want to move to Canada and live in the woods, you can. Seriously, anything you want to do, you can do. It’s a freedom that you have never experienced before in life. The world is out there, and it’s full of opportunities, so what do you do?

No one actually told you how to properly be an adult. Suddenly you have bills, and insurance, and taxes, and…what the fuck is all of this shit? All your life you’ve been growing up to be an adult, a full grown human being, and suddenly you don’t know how the hell you’re supposed to do anything because no one taught you a damn thing. I used to think that we need a class in high school, called like “Life Basics” or something, where you learn how to open a bank account, shop for car insurance, do taxes, manage money, and how to tip properly. It would cover all of the awkward shit about adulthood that no one ever teaches you how to accomplish. It’d be a fun class. Anyways, that’s what killed early adulthood for me; I had no idea what I was doing. There was a ton of freedom to do nearly whatever I wanted, but I didn’t do shit because I was scared and had no clue how adulthood worked.

Normal adulthood is when you finally figure out how to make shit work. You’re now a professional adult: you’re a pro at time management, you don’t get too hungover anymore, and you’re a master at budgeting and paying bills. Maybe around this time you’ll also have kids and you’re a master of parenting. Whenever life shows you something new that you don’t know how to handle it, you deal with it anyways, because you’re a fucking pro at adulthood. You don’t whine to your parents to fix your problems because you have life on lockdown. You’re a master. During this time you theoretically also have all of the freedom that adulthood gives you. You can still do whatever you want. It should be a great time!

Remember those things called responsibilities that made childhood so amazing because there were none? Well, there are tons of them in this phase of life. You have freedom, and by this time you might even have some money to play around with, but you can’t actually act like you’re free because you have to work early in the morning. Any spontaneous trips to Disney World or the Bahamas are out of the question because you don’t have off work for the next week. And the kids don’t have off school either. Can you get shit-faced drunk and ride your bike around the city? Nope, unless you plan ahead and have a baby sitter ready for your kids. You have all the freedom in the world, but not really, because you have responsibilities now.

All of that is also considering that you have a decent paying job, and have saved money. Many adults have it a lot worse and don’t even have the remote possibility for a spontaneous vacation. Some people are living day-to-day and week-to-week with no way out. These people really have responsibilities and their lives as well as a handful of others depend on them for survival. That’s a ton of weight to have to carry, and that sort of stuff isn’t exactly fun. Adulthood is fun because you have freedom, but you have some serious responsibilities to worry about.

Being a Senior: Can I Die Yet?

Next up is retirement and being a senior. This stage has all of the perks of adulthood without all of the day to day responsibilities. The kids might be moved out, and you might have a cushy retirement fun, and everything could be peachy for you. It should be a fantastic time to be alive…

…Except for the whole “getting old” thing happening. I’m currently 30 years old and have already noticed my body isn’t as durable as it was earlier in my life. 30 is fairly young too. I dread to know what 60 or 70 will feel like. And the people in that age group I know seem to agree that it is hell. It doesn’t sound like a fun time to live through. Like, sure, you’re alive, but if you ache all the time and can barely walk up some stairs I doubt life will be as enjoyable as when you were younger. You really wont want to do a spontaneous trip to the Bahamas or go on a drunken bike ride. Once again, this is a best case scenario. You might still be supporting your kids, or grand-kids, or trying to fund their college. Or you could be dead by this time. Doesn’t that sound fun? So, as an older person, you have your adult freedom back but by this time you deteriorating body and health probably won’t feel like using that freedom you have. You’d much rather sit in your comfy chair, watch TV and be scammed by people.

So, yeah, life sort of sucks. Not really: life is wonderful and besides life there isn’t really much else to enjoy. Life is all we really have to work with when we’re alive. I guess it’s really the micro, day-to-day worldview of life that makes it shitty. Or maybe it takes a more positive outlook on life that I (obviously) haven’t developed yet. Whatever is the case, I don’t like to think other age groups hold more promise than my current adult age does. Has anyone ever heard of the “grass is greener” saying before? Life is life, some parts are good, but they also suck. I’m perfectly happy being an adult even though I can’t find time to really do a damn thing I’d like to do. I’m not an ignorant kid, or a moody-ass teenager, and I know how to adult pretty well compared to many others I know. I haven’t paid a bill late in three years! And my health hasn’t went to shit quite yet. So that’s good. Eh. Life doesn’t suck too bad.

Pokémon Go!

For those of you living under rocks or whatever, or don’t use electronics at all, you won’t know anything about Pokémon Go. That is unless someone has looked under your rock or inside your hut looking for a Charizard, which is actually highly likely. But if you ever browsed Facebook or have visited a local park or any other public place in the past month, you are probably well aware of Pokémon Go. It’s existence is pretty damn hard to miss by the masses of people that are out wandering around in unlikely places, staring at their phones. Personally, I’ve been amazed at the change that has taken place in the world since this little video game was released. I can’t think of a single thing that has instantly altered the world as this unassuming game has. It’s been interesting to think about. So, for this first real blog post, I’ll write about Pokémon Go!

What exactly is a “Pokémon?”

Before I start, let’s get this shit out of the way:

  1. Pokémon – The video game itself
  2. Pokémon – The series itself or merchandise or whatever
  3. pokémon – The actual “pocket monsters” themselves, Pikachu, Gyarados, etc.

Pokémon, for those aforementioned culturally-ignorant people, are a series of video games, television shows, card games, merchandise, and other various things that have been fairly popular in the past few decades. It all started with the games Pokémon Red and Blue that were released for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996 (Apparently, they were released in Japan a year earlier, and were titled Red and Green, but whatever). The gameplay centers around catching pokémon, literally translated as “pocket monsters,” leveling them up, and challenging various gym leaders to progress the game. From first hand experience, the gameplay is highly addictive, even in the first iterations of the games. Kids from the 1990s will know exactly what I am referring to. It is the key points of the core Pokémon gameplay that lead me to the next part: why this silly-ass game of Pokémon Go is so damn popular.

Why is Pokémon Go so Popular?

Pokémon Go is amazingly popular. It blows my mind. As huge as this game is it will be remembered decades in the future – sort of like how Super Mario Bros and Pong were. Pokémon has always been big, but the hype has mellowed out over the past decade; it was huge in the 90s when the video games, card games, and television show were released, but waned a bit in popularity during the 2000s. But Pokémon Go took the hype back to the stratospheric heights the series enjoyed back in the 90s. Pokémon Go is as huge as it is because it benefits from a strong nostalgia factor and by being able to incorporate the beloved things (such as core gameplay) of pokémon in a new and interesting way.

The game is huge partly because it’s a Pokémon game; there are large numbers of people playing this game that played the originals back in the late 90s. By doing a bit of math, you’d expect anyone from between 25 and 35 to have possibly played the originals around the time they were released. It isn’t hard to expect that these kids might be more drawn to the game more than other demographics. It’s also notable that this age group is very tech-savvy and comfortable with owning and using phones. Pokémon Go might also be targeted towards younger kids, but I’d expect the core demographic to be 20 and 30 year-olds. First-hand experience seems to confirm this. It also isn’t targeted towards seniors because, well, duh. Why would they be? Anyways, it seems most people that play Go were some of the same people that played it back in the 90s.

Another key aspect of Go is that it borrows gameplay from the actual, original games. As I said, this gameplay is highly addictive and magically blends itself into the augmented reality platform of this newest release. In the original game, you walk around a virtual work looking for pokémon. In Go, you walk around the real world looking for pokémon. This makes you actually part of the adventure! Instead of acting through a protagonist; you are the protagonist! And instead of fighting deliberate, designed, and programmed gyms, you battle other people’s real (real in a sense) pokémon. Differing types of pokémon also spawn in locations based on their types: water pokémon around water, bug type pokémon around cities, and you get the idea. This adds a realism factor and also forces you to travel around to find new types. In short, the gameplay is close to the original game, except it happens in reality. It’s like real-world Pokémon!

Pokémon had a motto of “Gotta catch ‘em all!” As you’d expect, Pokémon Go incorporates this nicely. The pokédex, the list of all the possible pokémon you can catch, stares at you with blank spaces for pokémon that you haven’t caught yet, and beckons you to complete all of the entries.

Screenshot_2016-07-25-12-41-37
My own, pathetic pokédex.

 Each new pokémon caught gives you a very happy feeling of progress. This is how the system worked in the originals, but you were just competing with the game to catch as many as possible. You didn’t know what your friends caught in their own games unless you talked to them at lunch time or called them after school. There could be some competition, but it was still you in your own game. Pokémon Go, by taking place in our current age, allows you to have near instant contact with your friends, and a single screenshot on Facebook or over a text can make you feel that your own pokédex is lacking. Instead of just trying to complete the entries for your own pleasure, you are suddenly competing against nearly everyone you know. This adds pressure, suspense, and a goal that keeps Pokémon Go highly addictive.

The game is a perfect storm of crack-like gameplay that stays true to the Pokémon formula. Kids who played decades ago will play a similar game where they themselves act as the protagonist and battle real people at gyms. The addictive nature of trying to catch all possible pokémon, or at least more than your friends have caught, is present and is magnified by social media.

Is it just a Fad?

The key speculative question I’ve been asking myself is “Is Pokémon Go a fad? Or does it have staying power? Will my beloved bike-path always be clogged with 20 and 30 year-olds staring at their phones?” My wife likes to call me a “fence sitter” as I always take the middle view, and I’ll do the same here. The game won’t stay as large as it was in the first few weeks, and interest seems to be on the decline already, but I think for years on out you’ll still see people visiting pokéstops and walking around parks. There just won’t be as many as before. I’m personally curious to see how people play the game in December and January. If anyone is a true pokémon champion, it’d probably be whoever those people are.

Is Pokémon Go Good or Bad for the World?

This is up for everyone to decide on their own. Some people loathe the game and call those who play “children” or other terms akin to that. People who like the game give it credit for getting people outside. One of my friends on Facebook deemed that “Pokémon Go will end obesity.” While I wouldn’t go that far (American’s health habits are well entrenched), you can’t deny that people actually have went outside. Isn’t one long critique of gamer culture that they don’t get enough time outside? Problem solved. They’re outside.

It is also depressing to find people complaining about social media being flooded with Pokémon references and memes. Yes, this is the case, but people are passionate about their loves and hobbies. Others have to endure endless football posts and references, and other various sports year round. Not everyone likes sports. People share music that not everyone likes and we deal with it. This goes for about any post: politics, news, and whatever else people share. Social media has a myriad of stuff going on, and despite Pokémon Go being “immature,” others have to deal with equally frustrating things, and many stay silent about it. Sometimes it’s okay to be childish. What, are we supposed to worry about wars, terrorism, and everything wrong with the world just because it is deep and important? Does being an adult mean you have to be permanently pissed-off and serious? Worrying won’t solve anything, and posting on Facebook won’t solve anything either. But if everyone just played Pokémon Go and didn’t care about other people’s issues, I bet the world would be a better place. That’s not even sarcasm.

Murder
…Although seeing this might make you murder someone.

So I must say I’m a fan of Pokémon Go in its ability to let people be part of something bigger and share something with a large portion of their friends. The world is a shithole – we all know that – and forgetting about it in a bout of pokémon hunting at a park, enjoying the outdoors, and kindly interacting with strangers who share a common interest doesn’t seem to be a terrible thing. While I’m not as dedicated as many of my friends, I wish everyone luck on their hunting. Go catch your Charizard and drop a 1200 cp Vaporeon at a nearby gym. #TeamMystic