21 Years

Growing up in the age of Pokemon

By John Pilchard

I’d first like to start this by acknowledging that this is an open letter to a company that I love. I still haven’t fully grasped the definition of an open letter, and I’m not entirely sure how the U.S. postal system works, but regardless here we are. Both are more or less pleasantries anyway.

Stamps cost how much?

This is a thank you to a company who, from such an early age kindled discovery within me. It’s hard to point out singular moments that defined those moments of discovery, wonder, and curiosity throughout child hood. It’s even harder to recognize a single entity. But if you’re able, I assume you’re a creative type. Or unemployed. Or both.

This is an open letter to a company who comfortably kindled the notion that maybe it was all right to become the very best. And more importantly, that it was all right if you didn’t. This is the company who very recently told me that, if you had the means, it was ok to walk to work. Take the scenic route. See what’s out there. Air conditioning will be there at the end of your journey, most likely.

There was a simpler bit in 2016 that I think most of us ignored in the moment. Now, a few months into 2017 I find myself thinking about that pleasant July whenever I try to get work done. I think about the time spent with my brother and mom, united by a simple, common goal, to catch and I guess harvest them all. This is the social aspect that has redefined how a company is operating.

This is an open letter to the company that packaged and distributed kleptomaniacal tendencies in candy-coated monster shells.

What the Pokémon Company has done is fuse zeitgeist with nostalgia and manufactured it to the masses. Not only will they attack nearly all mobile platforms but they will cater to both the millennia’s and the new generations who are growing up with Pokémon today.

From the mid-1990’s the company bombarded every form of media with blitzkrieg intensity,

Pokémon was everywhere and on everything. Video games, trading cards, movies and the animated television show, the franchise was in, and the mania had blossomed.

This was of course in the late 1990’s. What’s worth the mention is the fact that everyone has the memory. A specific memory of where they were when they were first introduced to the Pocket Monsters.
In the early and mid-2000’s, the love of the franchise began to fade. However, not much had actually changed. The production of the anime still goes on until this day. Gamefreak, with the help of Nintendo, continues to release a bounty of Pokémon games to a market that is still interested. They do this almost annually. The company hasn’t slowed down even when most people think they have. What works to their advantage is that the Pokémon Company is less invasive than Apple Inc. and less addictive than McDonald’s. Not by much though
The strongest resurgence occurred in 2016 with Pokémon Go. I would hope that if you have made it this far, that you would not need an explanation. Just look at your phone! Suddenly Pokemania was back, if only for a moment. Recently for the company’s 21st anniversary, they released the second generation of Pokémon for Pokémon Go. The conversations have started up again, and the memories have been rekindled.
As technology continues to evolve faster than we know how to handle it, so will the Pokémon Company. Using smartphones to their advantage was the leap forward the company needed last year. Who knows where they will be with the casual advent of virtual reality, and whatever tech comes out in the near future. I’m sure the Pokémon Company has its eyes set on things we don’t even know about yet.

Pokémon Go changed things for the company because it followed through with the socialization aspect, even if you didn’t notice it. To the kids who grew up with the Pocket Monsters in the 90’s, imagine the pictures, and tangible memories to be had if your Gameboy Color had had a camera attached to it. Imagine what could have been lost if you could have easily Googled your way out of any predicament, or found simple answers on how to evolve Kadabra. Pokémon came about at the most romantic time it possibly could have. Compared to technology today, the Gameboy Pocket, and the Gameboy Color seem archaic. If you go back and play the original Red and Blue, the graphic sprites look anything but glamorous. In most cases, they look like rough, cubic goo. Oh, that was a Ditto.

But this works to the company’s advantage.

The core fans (the ones who grew up with Pokemon in the 1990’s), had to bridge the gap in their minds. This was before video game graphics become more real than reality. There was a sense of imagination and wonder when the little beasts fought. This fire-breathing dragon does not look like the one on the box. But that’s ok. When I was younger, I always wondered what came next.

What was that cabbaged festooned dinosaur going to turn into?

I openly admit here, that Bulbasaur was my first starter.

Pokémon Red and Blue were just crude enough to not take the player out of the moment entirely. I can still remember road trip with my cartridge, and I can remember every attempt at my dad trying to converse with me, albeit poorly, about something he knew I loved so dearly. I can still remember the Christmas when my Gameboy Color and a copy of Pokémon Red were given to me by my parents. They knew how excited I was back then, but I don’t think they knew about the long-term effects it would have on me.

Like my cabbage lizard, I look forward to what the Pokémon Company will turn into. Eventually, a few years down the road, the company will have to evolve into a Venusaur. Just when you think it’s done, the Pokémon Company will through a mega evolution into the mix, or perhaps a regional variant. I have faith they will keep on going, and I look forward to that. Maybe one day down the road I can introduce my child to the wonders of Pokémon. Maybe.

Like the six Pokeballs on your hip, the Gameboy in your backpack, or the phone in your pocket, the Pokémon Company will be there, evolving with you.

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