Commentary

How playing Pokemon Go can teach you about life

It's just a game but it keeps you going and you learn about teamwork and patience

For the popular augmented-reality mobile game Pokemon Go, the past two weeks have been a roller-coaster ride.

The disastrous Pokemon Go Fest in Grant Park, Chicago, was a low with long queues and trainers not able to log in due to server overload. But the subsequent release of two Legendary Pokemon - Articuno and Lugia - in Raid Battles, which resulted in huge groups of trainers appearing at these Battles, meant it went back on a high.

There have always been many negative vibes about Pokemon Go players - "zombies" walking around staring at their smartphones and catching virtual critters. Many parents have stopped their children from playing the game - yet these adults continue to play it. But we have also seen reports of cancer survivors and retirees enjoying a new lease of life playing Pokemon Go.

Personally, I think playing Pokemon Go teaches people a lot about life.

LIFE IS A TEAM EFFORT

I support the NBA team Golden State Warriors. And its motto Strength In Numbers holds true in Pokemon Go, especially when you are trying to fight Legendary Pokemon like Moltres or Lugia in Raid Battles.

You might not stand a chance even with 10 people fighting them. And, yet, I recently saw a kid who insisted on taking on Lugia alone. Of course, he kept losing.

It wasn't until after much persuasion from bystanders that he finally agreed to join in a group effort. And of course, we finally beat Lugia.

And that's life. In work or in personal life, you always need the help of your colleagues, friends, spouse and relatives.

Good things happen to those who wait, and Pokemon Go has taught many trainers the virtue of patience. Catching that prized Pokemon is often down to luck - or the result of hard work and perseverance.
Good things happen to those who wait, and Pokemon Go has taught many trainers the virtue of patience. Catching that prized Pokemon is often down to luck - or the result of hard work and perseverance. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

There is always strength in numbers.

YOUR EFFORTS MIGHT NOT PAY OFF, BUT KEEP TRYING

There are some Pokemon trainers who have devoted much time and even spent money to do well in Raid Battles, but have yet to catch a Lugia or Articuno.

And there are some lucky trainers who went home with those prized Pokemon after just a few sessions in Raid Battles. It is all about luck.

It is the same story with trainers trying to hatch the cute Pichu with Ash's cap - available only during the anniversary period.

I know some trainers who bought a lot of incubators in the hope of hatching the limited-edition Pichu but instead hatched a host of "irritating" Pokemon like Nidoran and Spinarak. Yet, there are some who have never bought a single incubator and still hatched the coveted Pichu.

In real life, there are times when no matter how hard we try, we cannot get what we want.

But that does not mean we stop trying. We should continue to persevere in order to reach our goals (within reason, of course).

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Just as we have to keep trying, we also need to learn to wait.

As the saying goes, "Good things come to those who wait", and Pokemon Go has taught many trainers the virtue of patience.

Leave your Pokemon in Gyms and wait to collect the 50 Poke Coins after a day.

Wait another day to get a free Raid Pass. Wait for more people to enter a Raid Battle before you start to fight Lugia. Some things in life cannot be rushed.

Of course, you can cut corners in Pokemon Go by buying Poke Coins to buy more Lucky Eggs to level up (still legit) or spoof around to get to Gyms and kick other trainers out (not legit, not cool).

But cheating is never rewarding. Doing it right not only prevents you from getting banned, but is also far more satisfying.

IT IS JUST A GAME, SO IS LIFE

I have heard parents tell their disappointed kid who just missed out on catching Lugia or Articuno: "Relax. It is just a game."

Well, I think life can be seen as a game too.

Choosing the skillsets we think can help us in life is akin to choosing whether one should use the Technical Machine in the hope of changing a Machamp's charged attack to the more powerful Dynamic Punch.

You also choose which team to join, and stick with it for life. It is like if you are a Liverpool fan, you don't become a Chelsea fan because it just won the league.

I belong to Team Instinct in Pokemon Go. And I just have to deal with the fact that in most Raid Battles (why so many from Team Mystic?), I will be in the minority and get fewer Premium Poke Balls. That's just life.

So take a chill pill, and walk on in this game of life.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2017, with the headline 'How playing Pokemon Go can teach you about life'. Print Edition | Subscribe