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Pokémon Sleep is just the start of my fully gamified life

Pokémon Sleep is just the start of my fully gamified life


I go for walks with pikmin and soon will snooze with pokémon. What’s next: lunch with Kirby?

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A promotional image of someone playing Pokémon Sleep.
Image: The Pokémon Company

Whenever I go for a walk, whether it’s to grab a coffee or a proper hike, I annoy the hell out of my family by playing Pikmin Bloom incessantly. No matter how picturesque the view is around me, I spend plenty of time staring at my phone, making sure I’m planting flowers efficiently and helping fresh new pikmin grow. It’s a game that you play by walking; more steps mean more flowers and pikmin, so it’s at least encouraging me to move around. But it’s also a prime example of how video games have infiltrated nearly every part of my life. And with Pokémon Sleep launching in the summer, that problem is only going to get worse.

Now as someone who loves both pokémon and sleep, it seems like an app designed with me in mind. The idea is that you place your phone near your pillow while you sleep for tracking purposes, and the longer you sleep, the better score you’ll get, which will encourage new and different pokémon to show up in the game for you to research. There are even different styles of sleep, like dozing vs. slumbering, that impact how the game plays out.

I’m excited to try it out, but I also can’t help but be a little disturbed by the premise. The marketing materials, in particular, are unsettling:

Do you find yourself struggling to get energized in the morning? Has the same old bedtime routine grown tiresome? Now, you can turn your sleep into entertainment with Pokémon Sleep! Playing this game is simple: just place your smartphone by your pillow, then go to sleep. Just like that, waking up in the morning becomes something to look forward to!

Do I really want my sleep to be turned into “entertainment”? It sounds pretty weird when you put it like that, but I do appreciate games that are trying to improve my well-being, whether it’s through physical activity or better sleep habits. On the other hand: does every moment of my life need to be filled with something?

A screenshot of the video game Pokémon Sleep.
Pokémon Sleep.
Image: The Pokémon Company

It’s bad enough that regular video games have become so demanding, whether it’s sprawling open worlds that require dozens of hours to experience (and that’s before they add expansions) or never-ending live-service games that make you feel left behind if you take some time off. It’s a full-time job trying to keep up. Actually, it is my full-time job, and I can’t even stay fully up to date.

It makes me wonder what’s next. Walking and sleeping are taken, and so, strangely, is brushing your teeth. What if brewing coffee gave me a bonus in Persona 5 or cleaning the litter box lured some new kitties to my backyard in Neko Atsume? The most untapped part of my day is probably meals. Unless I happen to be eating a burger while playing Super Mario Run, that’s three moments in every day that have yet to be squeezed by gaming time. Maybe my Peridot pet will be able to join me at the AR table. I’m sure Kirby could make his way in there somehow, though I question whether or not he’d have healthy eating habits to share. More likely, he’ll chastise me for not eating quickly enough (and failing to take on the properties of my meal).

But I’m more than OK without having Kirby Dines on my phone. I love games, obviously, but I think I’m at peak capacity: there’s only so much time I can think about and interact with games before it becomes too much. That said, I may not be able to resist the lure of a virtual snooze with Snorlax. When it comes to zzzs, I gotta catch ‘em all.