Quick, name something that people get crazy about very suddenly, obsessively track stats, trade components, battle each other, declare team allegiances, and talk about to the point of people wanting to duct tape their mouth shut.
Did you say fantasy sports?
Oh, you said Pokemon Go?
Because the answer I was looking for was fantasy sports. I would have also accepted fantasy football and fantasy baseball.
Pokemon is an all ages franchise, why the hate?
Pokemon came on the scene in the US very suddenly in 1998 (it was released in Japan in 1996, hence the 20 year anniversary celebrations taking place this year). It quickly became a hit among kids and teenagers and college students all alike, which may surprise many people.
You see, Pokemon was released as an all ages game, as many Nintendo franchise games are. The Super Mario franchise is all ages, for example. But due to the pairing of an anime series that was largely geared for children, the entire franchise became viewed as being for children.
But was that a worthy idea?
Let's review the aspects of a Pokemon game: you wander a virtual landscape capturing "pocket monsters" that are used to battle other trainers. You get stronger the more you win, and you can collect a variety of different kinds. In the games, you have a team of 6. But you have to consider the dynamics of what you carry with you.
In the original games, there were 15 "types." Types such as electric, fire, grass, water, ice, etc. Fire could take down grass, grass could beat water, water destroyed fire. Electric could beat water, but was ineffective against grass. Ice could easily beat grass, but would lose to fire. This got very complicated. Much like one needs to consider the dynamics of a sports team, players had to consider what types to include in a limited roster, and what they brought to the table. Because on top of the types, there were only four attacks/moves any Pokemon could know out of quite a few they might learn.
Sounds complicated, doesn't it? I won't even touch on the underlying dynamics of their stats and how each one was different and you had to care about "value training.”
Is this the kind of strategizing you expect from a kids game? Or is it the dynamic of something that offers fun to younger kids and more challenging dynamics to the older? In the above, is there anything objectively childish about the game?
No. There's not.
It is perceived as childish due to aesthetics and the fact that it appeals to kids as well.
But do we consider Pixar movies childish? Is Wall-E a kids' movie only? Or the Toy Story trilogy? The Incredibles? They all appeal to kids and their aesthetic is for children, but they are for all ages as well.
Every football season, millions of adults get involved in a fantasy football. What do they do in fantasy football? Collect players to form a team, battle each other, and try to win to be the best. They obsess over player statistics, the people their players are going against, the teams they are facing. It is the same game as Pokemon, with American Football as the skin instead.
Perhaps you may view that as acceptable because children are not playing fantasy football and it is pure strategy. I will suggest that we should reconsider the nation's obsession with college sports as well, then.
The majority of college sports fans do not play the sport they are a fan of. They consume it at home or at the stadium. They declare team affiliations and get very involved in the culture, yet it is entirely played by older teenagers and upperclassmen. These people are all vastly younger than many fans of said sports.
Pokemon may not be for everyone. And it shouldn't be. You can enjoy what you like. You should enjoy what you like. You should also let people enjoy the things they like, too.
Last night I walked out to a nearby college campus to my home. It was 11:30 PM at night and my internet went down, preventing me from watching another episode of Agents of SHIELD. Figured why not some late night Pokemon Go playing.
I ran into a diverse group of 100+ people playing the game, hanging out, and having fun. Socializing. Walking. Exercising.
Oh, right, you see Pokemon Go requires physical movement and interaction with people in the real world. I guess that's something fantasy sports fans haven't figured out how to do yet.
Now if you'll pardon me, I have an egg that needs 10km of walking to be hatched. I'll keep enjoying my thing, maybe you should just enjoy yours.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.