Calloused thumbs, piles of Mountain Dew and Doritos, mind entrapped in a screen of flashing colors and the sounds of battle. All of these are sure signs of a gamer, but not of the standard caliber. Instead of an Xbox controller, this gamer holds their beloved Nintendo DS, and instead of the usual Call of Duty combat, this gamer is in a different kind of battle: a Pokemon battle. Although this girl shows just as much vim and vigor as the next video game enthusiast, she is a much more challenging breed of gamer to come across than most, all because she plays the now antiquated game of Pokemon.
Pokemon is a familiar franchise to children and young adults alike. Whether we woke up early every Saturday to watch the cartoon, or spent hours deciding which version of the latest game to purchase, most of us have some sort of affiliation with a forever 10-year-old boy and his tiny electric mouse. All of us at some point or another have been a fan of the Pokemon franchise, therefor it is ridiculous to suddenly declare it an unspoken “taboo.” It seems that these days it is considered “weird” or “embarrassing” for a high schooler to still partake in the simple pleasures of a Pokemon battle, even if it has been a part of their life for years. Some students these days are forced to keep their Pokemon games a secret, only playing in the confines of their home away from judging eyes, which quite frankly defeats the purpose of the game entirely. Pokemon is a game that is meant to be shared, just as in the days of our youth, we should be able to trade and battle with our friends without fear of ridicule for simply partaking in something that we enjoy.
One student admitted she plays but requested to remain anonymous just so she could avoid the social stigma now associated with the Pokemon franchise.
“I started playing Pokemon games in the fifth grade because it was really popular at the time,” she said. “I’ve played quite a bit of Pokemon games, from Pearl and Platinum all the way to Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. I sometimes feel a lot of criticism from others who think I should have ‘grown out of it by now,’ which is really unfortunate since these are pretty great games. They are more complex than a lot of other ‘child oriented’ games, and I honestly wish that people would just mind their own business when it comes to these things. I play what I want to play, and you play what you want, don’t make it into a bigger deal than it is. It is sad that I have to wonder if it’s socially acceptable to talk about something that I enjoy playing.”
It is greatly disappointing that a fellow KPark student feels the need to hide her hobbies simply because some may consider it to be slightly unorthodox. Many criticize the game and franchise for being too childish for a teenager, however enjoying something from your youth is not something to be ostracized for. In fact, many teenagers still bond through their mutual love of childhood cartoons such as SpongeBob or Looney Tunes, further proving that Pokemon still qualifies as a relevant interest for those considered older than the target audience.
Video games should not be a factor on which you judge someone, they are simply a fun pastime that shows nothing of who an individual is. If someone does something that is considered a little weird, but they truly enjoy it, then let them express themselves without shame. Judge a person based on their personality, not their gaming habits. Besides, we all have our own problems, let’s not have Pokemon be another one.