PikachuI overheard a conversation on the bus back to Seattle between two adult Pokémon enthusiasts who were unabashed about their love for what most people consider a kids’ pastime. They were brainstorming about ways to add further layers of depth and richness that would make the game a truly immersive experience. What would be great, one of them said, would be a nationwide Pokémon competition between thousands of players. The whole thing would be organized using social networking web sites, and to play you’d have to fly around the country, meet up with strangers and form alliances which would then compete to win each another’s Pokémon cards. She was excited as she described this and clearly thought it would be a blast. But sitting there all I could think was–being told by a computer to travel to another city and engage with strangers in an arcane contest in order to win arbitrary chits. At what point does this cease to be Pokémon and just turn into life?

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