Joel tries to figure out why people think Pokémon is for kids when the adults who grew up with the series still play and adore it. Is an image problem to blame?
Pokémon X and Y both released on Oct. 12, and I was fortunate enough — or should I say brave enough — to endure the onslaught of 10-year-olds who attended midnight launch at GameStop accompanied by their fathers, who were clearly terrified that adults were buying a Pokémon game.
I know Pokémon is usually viewed as a kids game, but we all know that it really isn’t. When the Red and Blue versions released oh-so-many years ago, we were the kids running through bushes squealing like pigs in anticipation of a new Pokémon game (yes, the kids at GameStop did this). Anyway, my point is that many adults who have continued to play Pokémon have been doing so for years. These games have captivated us since adolescence. Why then do so many people tell us that Pokémon is for kids? Why do they tell us that Pokémon is a thing of the past?
When I was growing up, I was at the heart of the N64 movement, and Nintendo was truly at the top of its game. It didn’t matter if you were a young child, a teenager, or an adult. Nintendo had something for everybody’s gaming desires, and that carried over into the handheld market as well with the Game Boy. Even games like Pokémon had a more mature feel than they do today. I know that’s a bold statement, but games back then were less flowery than they are today, making those cute, cuddly Pocket Monsters seem more like … well, monsters than sweet and lovable companions.
So why the change in presentation? As Nintendo has matured as a company, it has broadened its focus to encompass “family” as the central component of its mission. Yes, games like Pokémon have only benefited from graphical updates (Pokémon X and Y look beautiful in 3D), but the mood of the games have changed as well. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I welcome change in any series that has built such an enduring franchise, but I also believe it is this change that has begun to foster criticism toward adults who play Pokémon. We’ve transitioned into a new age of Nintendo, and all we can do is stay true to ourselves.
Above: Sailing with Lapras in 3D is undeniably awesome!
Pokémon is where many of our handheld gaming careers began. When I think back to the 90s, the game I remember playing most was Pokémon Red. I played the hell out of that game, and it is the reason I have continued to love and enjoy this enduring collection of wacky, sometimes ridiculous creatures.
Really, not much has changed since the 90s in terms of handheld gaming. The 3DS is just a supercharged Game Boy. Yes, there is Internet and yes, you can wirelessly connect with others, but many of the changes are in the methods of performing certain tasks, not in the functions themselves. I guess what I’m getting at is that, if anything, the 3DS is actually a very mature handheld Nintendo product, but it has been deemed “childish” by many due to Nintendo’s current position in the gaming market. Kids playing with a 3DS is no different that a small child owning an iPhone. The only difference is in how the products themselves have been marketed.
Because Nintendo has aimed for a younger demographic, it is the older fan base that has become isolated. It is because of this that people find it strange when adults play games like Pokémon. This is unfortunate because it has been the older generation’s money that has supported Nintendo thus far, so it’s only natural to a bit frustrated when other people think that. Consider it from an investment standpoint. If you were putting hundreds of dollars into something you believed in, wouldn’t you want to get something out of it? If it’s something you enjoy, wouldn’t you want to feel free to do so? I think so.
I’m sick and tired of living in a world where we let others dictate what we can and can’t enjoy in life. I don’t care if you’re a 10-year-old kid, a 45-year-old virgin, or the Queen of France. If you love Pokémon, then play Pokémon! Who cares what other people think? Pokémon is not a thing of the past — it is cross-generational. It is something that has been part of our lives for so long. If people want to criticize us for playing games like this on the 3DS or any platform, then go ahead and criticize every single adult who plays “childish” games on Facebook, smartphones, or tablets. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
Unlike many of the games on the platforms I mentioned above, playing Pokémon can be an extremely rewarding and social experience that involves an enormous amount of strategy. So the next time someone tells you that you’re too old to be playing Pokémon, don’t be afraid to give them a piece of your mind.
The Pokémon Company International, a subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan, manages the property outside of Asia and is responsible for brand management, licensing, marketing, the Pokémon Trading Card Game, the animated TV seri... read more »
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