I have been a Pokémon fan since the Golden Age when the first 150 were introduced. I woke up dutifully every Saturday morning and watched Pokémon Indigo, longing to join Ash Ketchum on his journey with his Pokéfriends. Then on Christmas day, I received one of the first pair of Pokémon games in existence: Pokémon Blue. Joy flooded my heart as I held in my hand my chance to have my very own Pokémon adventure! Needless to say, like many other Pokemon game virgins, I played for hours and hours. I even heard the music in my head over and over as I tried to sleep long after the game had been forcefully shut off by my grandparents.
I have played every new version since and reveled as they each evolved offering new activities, experiences, dynamics, Pokémon, and new antagonists that seek power, destruction, and chaos. What is beautiful about the Pokémon experience is that it teaches us to never give up, whether we are training our Pokémon to beat gym leaders, increasing our knowledge of Pokemon by catching and filling our Pokédex, or beating the various antagonists to make the world a better place for people as well as Pokémon. The game encourages us to realize the value of friendship with Pokémon and others. We do our best as “trainers” to keep our Pokémon from fainting by giving them Potions or Berries. We level them up by battling other Pokémon or trainers to make them stronger. In the newer versions, like X and Y, we can play with them, pet them, and give them Poke Puffs (which look very delicious indeed) to grow closer to them in a way the Golden Age of Red and Blue could not. The games are chock-full of encouragement for kids to expand their minds, to never give up, and to accept everyone. During my latest journey through Pokémon X, I have collected the following quotes to remind Pokéfans, or introduce new potential Pokéfans, how encouraging, fun, and inspiring this game can be.
1: “I’ll think about what you did well and use this loss to fuel my desire to improve.”
2: “I know there is always going to be a tomorrow, so I don’t let defeat get to me very much.”
3: “Even if there’s only a little bit of something, it’s still best to share it.”
4: “Being rigid can make you tough, but it will also render you fragile. You’re better off being flexible. You know what I mean? Some people are fluid like water and can adapt to their environment without changing what’s important on the inside.”
5: “Even if a star loses, it doesn’t lose any of its shine does it?”
6: “You’ve got to turn every frustrating defeat into motivation and grow stronger!”
7: “Probability is just probability. Absolutes do not exist after all.”
8: “It is the duty of both Trainers and Chefs to find the good in any raw materials they have to work with.”
9: “To feel shame is to feel alive. In attempt to never forget that, I battle trainers like you.
10: “If you visit many different places to complete the Pokédex, you will probably see Pokemon with many ways of living and meet people with many ways thinking. First, accept the way of living and thinking that sometimes conflicts with your own. And think about what is really important — this will truly broaden your horizons.”
Pokémon is an incredible game that teaches kids that they are important, that they matter, and that they can make a difference. It teaches kids how to become heroes. And what else are we doing on this earth but choosing whether or not we can be heroes.