Let Off Some Steam: Pokéwalking

Let Off Some Steam is a new section where we let you guys get something off your chest – it can be a vitriol laced rant, a sappy love letter to whatever, or anything inbetween. Send your ranty words in this direction, and try and keep it under 600 words. Today Gordon Mackenzie talks about the bittersweet love that exists between man and Pokéwalker.

Pokéwalking I thought I'd share a story with Kotaku about something that left a hole in my life, something I never knew I would miss. My Pokéwalker.

I had known the Pokéwalkers destiny since the first day I laid eyes on it. And sure enough, late one Friday night (maybe even early one Saturday morning) I stumbled through the door and hastily put the washing on before collapsing in bed, forgetting to check if I had left anything my pockets.

Bye bye Pokéwalker.

And yet, for all the inevitability of the Pokéwalkers demise, I'd never once considered how much I'd miss it.

As a product I found the Pokéwalker little more than a novelty and a clever marketing device. Due to its levelling mechanics, the Pokéwalker provided little of practical value to HeartGold (the version I invested in). It was mainly used as a method of keeping my character in a good supply of items such as Pokéballs and, occasionally, catching a Pokémon.

As a concept, however, I found it to be astounding.

I like to think of games, and fiction in general, as alternate universes. Entire realities that exist because we choose to imagine them to do so. When we play a game we largely stop interacting in our own reality to become a character and influence theirs. I'm not playing Pokémon, I'm shaping the events of an entire universe.

Where the Pokéwalker becomes interesting is that it allows a person to actively participate in both universes at the same time. As I amble about my daily tasks, so does my alter ego from the Pokémon universe. Sometimes, from the corner of my eye, I can see a Squirtle walking next to me. Depending how much I'm suffering from sleep deprivation I can even start asking more mind-melting questions such as; if there is temporal coincidence in my actions and that of my character, am I walking him or is he walking me?

As much fun as these mental exercises might be it's not the main reason I found myself missing the Pokéwalker. As I suspect is the case with much of the Kotaku readership, Gaming has grown to form an important part of my personal identity. Enjoying a good story in single player, having a blast online with friends or just talking about games with them is a integral part of who I am.

When I've been busy and haven't had two minutes all week for my favourite hobby it was reassuring to know that wherever it was, whatever I was doing, I was gaming


    I had a similar experience with the wireless recruitment system on MGS Portable Ops on PSP. I started walking all manner of distances and routes in order to recruit new and valuable soldiers for my army. I'm not sure my fellow walkers of the world understood a grown man walking along with his PSP, mashing a button furiously whilst occasionally swearing or cheering.

    It was a fun experience regardless. I still do a bit of wireless recruitment from time to time when I find myself on a tram or other public transport.

      Yeah that was fun.
      Kojima has always been good at having the game step into real life...Psycho Mantis anyone?

      I actually used to take mine in the car with me. Possibly not the smartest or safest thing I've ever done. ^^

    Totally AGREE (exceptt I bought SoulSilver).

    Very Scared my PW will die in the wash.
    Love reassuring myself that I am still gaming even though I'm actually doing the shopping.
    Love the concept.

    And you brought Squirtle along too? My FAVOURITE Pokemon, ten hugs for you!

      In red and blue I was always torn between Squirtle and Charmander because I like Squirtle the most of the starters but Charizard as the fully evolved starter.


        Charizard kicks Blastoise's poopshoot.
        Wartoitle and Char middle something something are a draw.

        Bulbadood comes third on all counts.

    I really wish the gaming 'pros' would stop acting like rediculous self entitled jerks. You ever join a pug Blops game on cybergamers and a player from a top clan is in there you had better be prepared for him to order you around and abuse you if you are getting beat.

      Needed to let off some steam too, I take it?
      I didn’t mean to sound like an elitist. I don’t claim to be particularly outstanding at games, I just send a lot of time and passion on them. I tend to think of someone as a gamer the same way I’d consider someone who practices on the drums most day of the week to be a drummer.

        Don't worry, I don't actually think he was talking about you.

        People are just reading the title of the article and assuming it means anyone can let off steam about anything they want in the comments, as opposed to an article written by a reader wherein they let off steam, and we comment on their steam-letting.
        I'm actually considering writing my own 'let off some steam' submission about people letting off steam irrelevantly in the comments of 'let off some steam'.
        My head hurts. *dizzy*

    I’m surprised that your pokewalker died in the wash.

    I’ve put my mine through the wash twice, after the cycle was complete I just removed the battery and wanted a few days for it to dry, put the battery back in and it worked fine, my Pokémon was still there too...
    ... Unfortunately it turns out that it doesn’t count the washing machine or I would have done thousands of steps.

      I still haven’t given up all hope. I wanted to open it up and try cleaning the soap out of it but it's got annoying mini security screws and I haven't found anyone with right ones I can borrow. I was thinking of washing it in distilled water and the letting it dry. Maybe that'll get the gunk out.

      On the topic of cheating to rack up steps. I discovered if I put it in my sock when I ride my motorbike to work I get something like 11000 to 13000 steps.

    I've never actually taken my pokewalker out of its wrapping. I don't know why that is. I had one of those pikachu walkers as a kid and I loved it.

    I want to have a whine about DC Universe. What is the deal with this amazingly buggy game, and what is the deal with releasing the valentines day special over a week after valentines day! Bloody SoE need to pick up their game, we're already getting jipped with empty servers and a subscription cost that is more then any other country

    This is a brilliant piece of writing. I love it. Humour, Pokemon, and skull-crushing metaphysics.

    Once my Pokewalker ran out of power, I never replaced the battery...

      How did it run out so quick?
      Mine's still goin strong!

    I have had some worrying moments when I have left it behind and thought I lost it. I had to replace the battery a couple of weeks ago. The instruction book stated that the batteries were only supposed to last for 4 months. I was amazed that it lasted almost a full year.

    I would be fairly sad if I were to lose it. I would probably buy another copy again if I did.

    I bought SoulSilver for my son and watching him try to transfer his pokemon for the first time I knew I had wasted my money:( However, in the spirit of the op, I really enjoyed epic win for iPhone for about a week (it got a little old, but it was fun!)

    I still have my PokeWalker! It's amazing because I have a penchant for losing pretty much everything. Watches, hats, nearly my actual DS, wallets (only once, thankfully), shoes, and the list goes on.
    It's all scratched to hell though, so I've sort of retired it to preserve it while it still resembles a PokeWalker, and so I don't lose it.
    Before retirement, I notched up 1,736,481 on it though, good times. :')

    I've just plain lost both of my pokewalkers.

    Yey, they used it!
    Exciting to see people commenting and not just wondering what I was rambling about. Now time to go back up and reply to a few of them.

    I used to use mine only on the rare occasions when I would remember to put it in my pocket on the way out the door for work/uni. But I just recently went on holidays to the USA for 6 weeks, and boy did it get a workout there. I decided to take it just to see how much walking I was doing, turns out I was doing a lot more than I thought.

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