There are some things that our generation will forever be associated with. Many are quick to label us as the iPod generation, the boy-bands-destroying-music generation or just the lazy, instant access to everything generation.
But I’d raise them the true yellow fever of a Pikachu any day.
If you were to ask my grade school teachers the one thing that would forever define our generation, it would be all too easy: Those damn Pokmons.
There are two types of people my age, as far as I am concerned: those who played Pokmon, and those who lie about not playing it. To adults everywhere, all of this is unexplainable. Even now I would be hard-pressed to put into words the cultural significance that those cute and cuddly little pocket monsters have had on me personally, or on the rabid gaming generation that they helped to jumpstart.
Case in point: I never had a Game Boy before Pokmon. Pokmon got me addicted to games like pot gets people addicted to cocaine. From Pokmon I moved to harder Role Playing Games, burned a myriad of batteries and even had to get one of those little worm lights so I could play under my covers when I was ‘sleeping.” Pokmon wasn’t a just game it was the gateway drug to the video game world.
It was a movement that makes the healthcare push look like nothing more than a small picnic. Pokmon didn’t need a year and a half to take over the world; it’s as if it happened overnight.
Pokmon’s takeover was beyond anything that had been seen before, and perhaps anything seen since (one could argue Mario, I’d give them that). My sister played Pokmon. She, unlike me, doesn’t have a Nintendo DS to keep playing, but she played the alternative versions that I didn’t get, watched the TV show and collected cards right alongside me. And I’m sure, if you think back, you can also find that you have just as many memories connected with that hunt to catch “em all.
Hell, while writing this article, I was talking to a good friend who told me that his current girlfriend, and I can’t make this up, told him that she knew he was the right guy for her when he showed her his old Pokmon card collection.
Now I don’t agree with him giving his hologram Charizard to her as an anniversary present, but yeah, that’s power right there.
Pokmon was a movement that brought people together, gamers and non-gamers alike.
Games were part of a guy’s world, but just as many girls, who may or may not still be into gaming, were brought in by the cuteness of Jigglypuff or Pikachu. Not that I wasn’t a big Jigglypuff fan. That puff was tough.
If you need any more proof of Pokmon’s almighty power, good old Bill Gates and Microsoft Word went back and fixed every instance of Pokmon I used in this article to the correct spelling, Pokmon. You aren’t a pop culture phenomenon until Microsoft Word respects you, my friends.
But I will admit, there was a span of time where I tried to hide my Pokmon roots. I missed several generations of the games, and didn’t want to talk about the hours I had spent chasing down that last damn Tauros in the Safari Zone. Pokmon was a children’s game now. It wasn’t meant for high school and I was too cool for such things.
That, sadly, was my attitude until a few years ago when I broke down again to play ‘Pokmon Pearl.” Fifty hours later I finally put the game to rest, feeling bittersweet over all my former Pokmon memories and realizing that Pokmon was still cool and just as addicting as it ever had been.
Sure, the card game may have died down, Pikachu costumes are limited to only a handful at costume parties and I’m betting that WB Kids isn’t having the best time keeping ratings up, but the games were where it all started and where the magic still lies.
Some people may still laugh when I whip out my DS in public and start playing. But for every person who snickers, two people will come up and ask me if that is the new version of Pokmon, just after hearing the intro music or a battle cry.
We may be older, but Pokmon is still just as relevant today as it was in the lunch rooms of grade school all those long years ago. I have long dropped the veil that I had nothing to do with Pokmon, and have allowed myself to get completely lost in the games once again.
Returning to these games makes me wonder where I would be right now if it weren’t for a mysterious fad from Japan that swept up a perfectly normal(ish) boy and introduced him to the almighty Pokmon experience, and the great world of video games that was to follow.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.