A confession: In the late ’90s and early 2000s, I, like many of my Millennial peers, was a Pokémon addict. Not long after the Japanese card game/video-game franchise/anime/all-consuming pursuit migrated to the U.S. from Japan in 1998, I received a Game Boy color and a cartridge of Pokémon Blue (one that, as of May 2020, somehow still held my original save file). I proceeded to play it, as well as later incarnations Gold and Crystal, compulsively. Something about the “Gotta catch ’em all!” ethos of the game, and the possibility of becoming “the very best, like no one ever was” was very enticing to me.
I realize now that my obsession was arguably a form of addict behavior, or something close to it. Using a detachable light to play under a blanket when I was supposed to be asleep was one illustrative example of the depths to which I sunk for my Poké-fix. Even more amusing is that I began frequently attending an in-game casino, and became somewhat addicted to that, too — that is, inside the game I was already addicted to, I became a gambling addict as well.
I’ve been clean for many years now, and have had no real desire to return to this childhood vice. But I still perk up when various forms of Pokémon entertainment resurge in popularity, as happened last year with the cards for some reason, and as happened in 2016 with the smartphone-based Pokémon Go, which interacted with one’s phone to make it possible to capture the creatures in “the real world” through a kind of interactive interface.
This latter craze has returned to the news with a recent decision by the California Second District Court of Appeal concerning the disciplinary fate of two police officers. Here is the arresting — and amusing — opening of a New York Times article about the officers:
The two Los Angeles police officers were in hot pursuit. They had four minutes to catch their target or it would get away.
The target was sighted at 46th Street and Leimert Boulevard and they had to hustle. Using his knowledge of the neighborhood, Officer Eric Mitchell noted that Leimert doesn’t go all the way to 46th. Officer Louis Lozano suggested they go down 11th and swing up Crenshaw.
The clock was ticking. But just in the nick of time, they “got him,” according to court documents.
They had captured a Snorlax.
Then, they were off to find the Togetic.
While the two officers were playing Pokémon Go in their police cruiser on April 15, 2017, they pretended not to hear a radio call to respond to a robbery at a nearby mall, an internal investigation found, based largely on a video recording from inside the car. The police chief fired the officers after a recommendation by a disciplinary board.
On Friday, the Second Court of Appeal affirmed a lower-court decision sanctioning the officers’ firing, despite a legal challenge on their part.
I think the LAPD was in the right here. This was an obvious dereliction of duty. The fact that I understand why the officers did what they did does not make me more sympathetic. They ought to have abandoned their childish pursuits long ago — or, at the very least, had enough discipline to restrain themselves from indulging while working. It’s not worth it.
Not even for a Snorlax.
Editor’s note: This post originally referred to “Game Boy” as one word.
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