Pokemon has been around for a long while, and like any cultural phenomenon, has attracted its share of ire from religious groups ranging from the Westboro Baptist Church to popular evangelical broadcasters. However, back in the franchise’s initial heyday in the West, the Vatican endorsed it saying that it had “no harmful moral side effects” and promoted values of creativity and friendship for young people.
The franchise has been going strong in evolving iterations since then, and the recent release of mobile virtual reality game Pokemon Go has intensified its popularity among all age groups. If you’re addicted to the game like many and are concerned how all this time spent hunting rare Pokemon over hill and dale is affecting your spiritual life, fear not! Here are five ways Pokemon Go has enhanced my ascetic struggle since its release.
1. Mortification of anger
In the first hours since I downloaded Pokemon Go, the server crashed no less than four times and the whole thing froze up more times than I could count. I had to uninstall and reinstall the app twice. I walked around my Poke Stop-bereft neighborhood in my pajamas and second-day hair for an hour looking for a Bulbasaur that didn’t exist. Meanwhile I kept getting updates from friends about how they casually caught an Oddish near the lipstick display in their local CVS, and almost lost my mind with envy, frustration, and anger. Gotta mortify those passions, guys, and it may as well be while chasing Pikachu on a glitchy server.
2. Supplicatory prayer
Let’s be real, I am not the most in-shape person. And neither are most of the people out there combing miles of local parks for Pokemon. But it’s my solemn duty as a Pokemon trainer to bring honor to Team Instinct and stick it to those uppity Team Valor bros, so I’ve endured merciless Florida heat, merciless Florida bugs, and unrelenting chub rub to catch as many Pokemon as possible. There were times when I thought I’d never make it back to my car, or to a civilized area with central A/C and Gatorade.
So in my misery I made my panicked and exasperated supplications to a variety of saints to just please dear God get me back to safety before I have a heatstroke. Included were St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes, St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. I spent more time with the saints surviving this stupid game than I have in months without it.
3. Strengthening of patience
Recently, I spent twenty minutes trying to catch a freakishly high-level Nidorina outside of the local Hofbrauhaus with just a regular Pokeball. Many regular Pokeballs in fact. Over. And over. And over again. At one point the little monster flippantly headbutted a ball into the nearest intersection. I almost threw my phone after it. But I didn’t. Because that’s how you develop virtues: you exercise them. Agonizingly.
4. Vocation development
Pokemon Go has done wonders for my marriage, which was already pretty great to begin with. We take more walks together (quality time!) and are improving our teamwork skills (“HERE CATCH THIS SCYTHER WHILE I DRIVE”). It’s also helped me mortify my own pride all those times I let go and let him lead me to nearby Pokemon I could have sworn were in the complete opposite direction.
5. Increase in Charity
The way most Americans approach games is crazy competitive and cutthroat, and can actually pose a danger to one’s sense of charity (here’s looking at you, football parents). There is a good deal of friendly competition in Pokemon Go once you join a team (TEAM INSTINCT 5 EVA) and start taking on Gyms, but for the most part gameplay has been a pretty positive, communal experience and even gave me several opportunities to connect with and help my fellow man (something I severely lack as an extreme introvert). Nothing says “Jesus loves you, fellow human” like directing a complete stranger to an elusive Dratini and a fertile Poke Stop and sending them on their way with a fresh bottle of water.