Feature Story

Should Pokémon Go or Stay?

July 15, 2016 – by Cole Hatcher

Amy Butcher and Pokéfriends

Ohio Wesleyan Professor Explores Fad in New York Times Essay

While teaching at a fine arts camp in Alaska, Ohio Wesleyan University professor Amy Butcher found herself exasperated by her students’ obsession with the new Pokémon Go augmented-reality game.

But then Butcher returned to Ohio and decided to search her own neighborhood for Lickitungs and Tangelas and Beedrills – oh my! And the award-winning, creative-writing teacher shares her findings in the July 17 New York Times. 

“My community came to life in vibrant shades of pastel blue and green, the grid of my neighborhood alive with magic,” Butcher writes in the SundayReview opinion column, “Pokémon Go See the World in Its Splendor.”

“I caught a Bulbasaur on my comforter. A fluffy Eevee lurked within the garden. In jest, my boyfriend and I walked a block in pursuit of rustling leaves that indicated an animal not yet captured in our Pokédex. We caught him and walked the block. Then another. We walked five miles. …

“Certainly there is the argument — already frequent, predictable and boisterous — that it is a particular brand of tragedy that leads an entire generation of American children into the great outdoors while clutching phones before their faces,” Butcher writes.

But, she decides, there is value in pastimes that encourage people “[t]o spend an evening not sitting passively before a TV, but interacting simultaneously with both our media and the world. To share in an experience, however seductive or silly, that forces us to go out and explore together.”

The New York Times essay is Butcher's second in four months. Her previous essay, “Emoji Feminism,” inspired Google employees to create a series of emojis depicting strong, successful women.

The company announced July 14 that the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee had agreed to add 11 new professional emoji, in both male and female options and in multiple skin tones. "That’s more than 100 new emoji to choose from!" Google reported.

Butcher, M.F.A., assistant professor of English, joined the Ohio Wesleyan faculty in 2014. Her first book is “Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder.”