Though today has the significance and honor of being the 15th anniversary of the World Wide Web as we know it today I would like to bring to your attention another anniversary of great significance : the 10th anniversary of the phenomenon known as Pokémon. As time goes on the two grow together in certain ways and the series continues to gain fans from all over the world. I wasn’t a fan at first but after I started playing last year I realized what a good thing it was.
Most everyone finds some pleasure in collecting. That is a statistic I just completely made up but based on a totally unscientific poll I took amongst my closest friends (both of them) it seems like practically everyone is collecting something nowadays, from stamps to baseball cards. The creator of the game, Satoshi Tajiri, was a collector of insects – not just any sort of insect collector, but a serious collector who spent hundreds of hours finding new ways to attract and catch the insects. It was this collecting of insects and his seeing the link cable for the Game Boy and imagining insects travelling over the cable that ultimately led to the creation of the Pokémon series. Fortunately for Tajiri his bet paid off and it started a national craze which spread worldwide over time. Being a collector myself one would think this sort of game would have immediately attracted me. This was not the case, however.
At the time that I first really noticed the game, I was working in a large commercial store, the name of which I would prefer not to mention as I have come to believe that its existence does not further the economy other than by making a few people in its corporate offices extremely wealthy while making the blue collar workers (without whom the company could not run) rely on welfare for their mere survival – but this is all getting way beyond the scope of this article. (I get a little steamed up when thinking about this company.) I saw this game in the so-called electronics department and noticed that most of the people that bought the game were children under the age of 13. My perception of the game was therefor that it was purely for young children and that I wouldn’t enjoy the game at all. This is not too dissimilar to how I was first introduced to the Harry Potter series. I initially saw a couple of different books when I was in the book area of Harrod’s in London and assumed it was just for children – when I saw a classmate in one of my Communication classes at Rutgers reading the first book in the series I realized I may enjoy it as well.
Getting Into It
The thing that caught my eye at Toys ‘R’ Us in Manhattan was the wireless adaptor that was promised to come with the Leaf Green and Fire Red versions of the game. In theory I and a friend could battle and trade from across the room. I had one such friend in mind and I bought us both games, thinking that things were going to be great and we’d regularly be battling and trading. One of the key factors in the sets of games is that there are certain creatures that can only be found in one or the other game – which would only therefore be acquired by trading.
In theory, this was going to be incredible. In practice it turned out to be not so great thanks in part to the fact that my friend quickly lost interest in playing the game and so I lost one of the best parts of the game, as I didn’t and still don’t exactly have all that many friends that have the same interest in the game as I do. I even tried to use some ‘find people’ web sites to find people with the same interest but I ended up not finding anyone. I suppose I should have put a bit more effort into trying but it’s pretty much in the past now.
Despite this lack of people to trade with I still managed to get through the entire game (partly with the help of some FAQ sites) though I was not able to compile an entire database of existing Pokémon as the game colorfully suggests you do throughout the entire game. I decided to try my hand at one of the other games in the series which was quite a lot of fun as well. When Pokémon Emerald came out (largely a remake of Ruby and Sapphire with some added features) I leapt on it as well though I have yet to finish any of these newer games. This did not stop me from having a few friends of mine go the the mall when the Pokémon anniversary party came around to connect every copy of the game I had to special machines which would get me a special edition Pokémon that could only be gotten there.
The DS, or the Incredible Future for Pokémon
For quite awhile now I have honestly been a bit lax about playing any of the Pokémon titles. I found out recently that there is a new set of games in the works for the Nintendo DS (with no date set for US release) which will allow for a beautiful thing called wi-fi connectivity. Essentially I will be able to connect to Pokémon players all over the world in order to play and trade Pokémon. When it became clear that the new Nintendo game system would at some point have a Pokémon game of its own which would allow you to connect to the DS version wirelessly and that after doing some things in the game you could import your Pokémon from earlier games the excitement all came back. I think I spent more time playing Emerald in the course of a week than in the first year that I owned it. The awesome Pokémon that I got from the anniversary party has helped me tremendously in this.
What’s the connection between the Pokémon series and the World Wide Web? Just as the World Wide Web has managed to bring together total strangers in the pursuit of common goals and interests, the Pokémon series has gone from connecting friends in local neighborhoods to connecting total strangers who live all over the world. The fact that there may be a brilliant thing called ‘voice chat’ on the DS Pokémon series may cause people who would not otherwise want to play to do so even if just to talk without having to pay international phone fees. Will Pokémon bring about world peace through its connecting of diverse national players? Unlikely. It could very well do a little bit towards changing things in that direction, however.