Bridges of Madison County–the Pokémon Version

Easy for me to dismiss the Pokémon phenomena–when we were kids on the farm, we weren’t holding up digital devices, trying to capture creatures. We were throwing balls, climbing trees, pitching pig manure, and feeding cattle. But a recent conversation with a college student has me thinking. Maybe I’m too quick to judge.

Hannah and her family are rural Iowa stock–showing livestock at county fairs and building huge bonfires in the woods type folk. So I was surprised to hear that two of her siblings are Pokémon Go enthusiasts. “My ten-year-old brother had me pull over on a country road one day this summer,” said Hannah. “He was after creatures at a Pokémon hot spot. He’s bothered that he hasn’t been able to capture a Pikachu.” On the plus side, she admits the youngster is getting some good out of it. “He walked five kilometers–or 3.1 miles as he looked it up–so that some type of eggs would hatch on his game app.” 

When I gathered eggs as a farm kid, I walked 40 meters–131 feet for you nonmetrics–to the chicken coop. The hens weren’t as cute as the digital pocket monster characters, but their eggs were a lot more tangible at breakfast. Obviously, the Pokémon era began well after I was a kid, but I did happen to be teaching in Japan when the Game Boy version of it started around 1996. Cards, cartoons, anime. It became popular for many, even in the heartland of America. Hannah says her 23-year-old brother has been following the new app because of his childhood imagination. “He has tons of old Pokémon cards, and he likes to relive his interest in the original game.” 

Overall, Pokémon Go is on the decline, according to this report and other indications. I imagine some of the “day trippers” have given up their fad following, and now the dedicated Poké-ists will carry on. Here in the college town where I live I don’t see as many gamers fixated on screens that point to some imaginary flying pig or whatever, but I’m sure it’s still viable even for some older students. 

Hannah says that she and her family recently visited the famous covered bridges west of Des Moines, and she reports that Pokémon is alive and well. “Players were at every bridge. These must be special PokéStops, especially set up for the game.” 

That’s fine with me. I’m not a Pokémon player, but anything would help the plot of the old Bridges of Madison County novel. The film version was sentimental syrup too, but it had good actors, and it’s fun to think of Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep as Pokémon creatures–nope, no jokes here about Pokémon hot spots or hatching eggs.   

NOTE: Click here for an earlier blog Farm Kids Have a Built-in Augmented Reality–Pokémon in the Pasture

by dan gogerty (images from and journeyj9911) 

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