Dear Nintendo: Let My Son Play Pokemon (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post request from a mother who wants to play Pokemon Go with her child, but can’t because of some of the many ways it is inaccessible to people with disabilities. Her identity will be kept anonymous for reasons of safety and consideration. The following is an open letter to Nintendo. 

Hey Nintendo, some people have disabled children who would like to play Pokemon Go.

Even though the premise of your game is awesome, it could be improved upon with more accessibility.

As the parent of an autistic child (who is intentionally keeping things vague for the sake of this post because I’d rather my son disclose information about himself publicly whenever he personally feels it is appropriate to do so and can consent to it) who enjoys playing Pokemon with his mother, and as a mother who grew up playing Pokemon games of her own, the Pokemon franchise has always been one that has allowed us to bond and spend quality time together. I man the controls, and when my son indicates a preference in one or more Pokemon, I try to incorporate those into our team. (Once we attempted to bring the three legendary birds to the Elite Four in LeafGreen because he liked them a lot. That might have been when type disadvantage was best illustrated, bringing three Flying when the first Trainer specializes in Ice. Moving along…) Based on what I’d read about Go, I thought it would be one of the most awesome games ever to play with him when it came out.

And then it came out.

Continue reading “Dear Nintendo: Let My Son Play Pokemon (Guest Post)”

Dear Nintendo: Let My Son Play Pokemon (Guest Post)

Pokemon Go? Not for me.

So as is everyone else on the entire planet. I was super excited about Pokemon Go. A whole new era of Pokemon catching, and on my phone? I was so excited. I downloaded the app, installed started it up. Oh it needs GPS, of course it does. Well living where there is no cell signal for the GPS to work, I decided to try it in town. I went to my local Barnes & Noble  before a doc appointment. Sweet it’s finally working.

Now I had read about the concept of it before, I had read and watched press stuff for it. I was so excited. Then it fully hit me while trying to actually play. This game is not for me. As a disabled person who is not able to walk long distances and uses assistive devices either a walker or a cane. I can’t just walk around for hundreds of yards to find Pokemon. When this finally hit me I was pretty devastated. I tried at the Doctors office and in that parking lot as well. But all the Pokemon were so far away. My heart sank.

If I had a motorized scooter that would be one thing. Frankly since I had to save money and get help paying for my walker there is probably no chance of me getting something more expensive anytime soon. I have a wheelchair that we got from Value Village, it is missing the foot rests and one arm rest, but I guess I could get asked to be pushed around. That just doesn’t sound very fun or comfortable (given the state of my current wheelchair). If I could wheel myself around that would be awesome. Since I can’t I am stuck.

It really hurts, this game I have loved since 6th grade, that I started playing on my Gameboy Color, that I collected cards with my friends with. That I have played for well over a decade. The newest version of this game is not for me. Frankly it’s not for many disabled people. Not only having physical disabilities as I do, and chronic pain, I also have mental disabilities, PTSD and anxiety to name a couple. This means even if I could roam around places where there are lots of people trying to catch these pokemanz. I would probably only be able to do it for a little while. My spoons would start getting eaten up fast (my energy and ability to be around people).

If I am having these issues, I know other people are too. Either because of physical limitations, safety, or social ones. Anyone with very bad anxiety, or other issues with crowded places, people, ect. We don’t get to play this game. It is very obvious after reading even more about how it works that you not only have to be able to walk/move long distances, but you also have to be able to be around people where you have the GPS available.

I can’t even go around my house, or the trails and woods around my house to catch Pokemon. A place where there is few to zero people, a place I feel safe. It seems I will be waiting for Pokemon Sun and Moon and just play the old fashioned way.

Frankly this is all I ever wanted out of a Pokemon game. Pokemon Snap (for the Nintendo64) was my first glimpse into this. Wandering around and trying to catch a glimpse of different Pokemon so you can get pictures of them. Pokemon Go was the next step! An ARG (Alternate Reality Game), where I can find Pokemon in my town, around my house! This was so exciting. Which is why it hurts so much to realize I can’t play this game. This game was made for able-bodied people or people with the money to have the assistive devices they need. It was made for neurotypical people who don’t have problems being around people and in crowded places.

Pokemon Go was not made for me, and it really fucking sucks.

Pokemon Go? Not for me.