Good luck trying to beat gaming paranoia at its own game

By Alvin R. Cabral

Over the previous weekend, in between the usual swinging from home and the office, there’s one daily fix I’ve had to fulfill: Zero in on a Pokémon and capture it. In Washington, meanwhile, the nerds and geeks on this side of the gaming world gathered for the annual Pokémon World Championships.

Sure, I used an app while they went at it with cards. But there was this weird zing that just jolted me, reasons for which I have yet to figure out (or accept?).

If this is some episode of FOMO — fear of missing out, hello — then logic dictates that I should’ve learned the tricks of the Pokémon Trading Cards trade ages ago so I wouldn’t be in this questionable state of mind right now.

Envy? Why would I waste my time figuring out which card to deal so I could defeat the one in front of me? I’d rather stick to actual playing cards, drinks in hand, engaged in an endless loop of the Philippine version of gin rummy all night long.

Sloth? For the uninitiated, Pokémon Trading Cards require skill and strategy. But, nope… in terms of video games, it now takes me months to give in and turn to walkthroughs on the Web for help to bust through some level I can’t beat. So, yeah, my strategic abilities can’t be questioned.

Pride? Let’s run through my Pokémon Go stats, accurate as at this writing, shall we? 2,448,018 XP, just a Poke Ball’s throw away from level 31; 5,001 Pokemon caught; 273 eggs hatched; exactly 3,300 PokeStops visited and spun; 1,378.8km walked; countless time ‘wasted’ doing everything you’ve asked of me. In no way I should feel bad given what I’ve accomplished so far, right? To paraphrase what a colleague told me before, I am too proud to cry over spilled milk.

Anyway, before I go ahead and actually list the rest of the seven deadly sins here (lust would be difficult to connect here, though), allow me to openly declare: This whole Pokémon thing is just part of a bigger, more complicated universe I’ve jettisoned myself into.

While technically not the same game, there is a common denominator between Pokémon Go and the cards — players duke it out (only at certain points in the former, since the main goal is to catch). I’m just imagining: If I’m so good in the virtual world, would I be as successful in the ‘real’ one? Hard to tell, since I have zero experience with those cards.

A year ago when I wrote about this same topic, I was a gangster at Pokémon Go — to hell with my meal timings; I just needed to go out and catch ’em all as much as I can. Today, I’m reduced to a lazy homebody, content with one, single, measly catch. On the bright side, that doesn’t require me to fill up my items list by visiting all those ’Stops.

My competitive nature can be equated to obsession, yet timidity does strike even the most results-oriented person (I guess? I hope I’m not alone?). The Pokémon fantasy is among a highly-elite list of make-believe worlds I submerge myself into, along with Dragon Ball, Mega Man and, of course, Castlevania.

Will I be in the World Championships next year in London? Not a chance, unless some curious twist of fate lands me there. And if that twist does happen, I concede to be too old and way, way behind among the huge number of players — over 7,500 from 49 countries last week — fighting it out. One of my best buds at work — a gamer herself and (unfortunately) my personal foil — needled home the point when I relayed to her my inability to progress in Mega Man 11 one fine day: Oh! The old man’s getting rusty!

Sorry, munchkin. I feel no more fulfilled more than your apparent amusement with my confession. Now paranoia is settling in; have I lost my touch? Probably, since I have more important things to deal with. Am I not playing enough or seriously? Another probability that I can answer once I get set aside (lots of) free time and get hold of that controller again.

Maybe lust wasn’t so difficult to drag into this — the lust to be good at anything, or of being in the know at the very least.

alvin@khaleejtimes.com

Alvin’s paranoia is not a reflection of his stupidity for once not recognising Pikachu wearing a cap

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