Coming Out of the Pokémon Closet,
We all have something we don’t want anyone else to ever find out about us. It may be unimportant, and it may be trivial, but either way, we don’t want people knowing about it. And, more than likely, at some point in our lives, we all held the same secret: the fact that we play Pokémon.
I was 14 years old when the game launched in North America, and needless to say, some people thought I was a little old to be playing. It was a kiddie game. It was for little babies. It was for wimps. If you weren’t playing something involving guns or sports, you weren’t cool. It’s enough pressure to make you hide it, because in 8th grade, there’s nothing more important than being cool.
I used to battle my friend in Composition class, and I remember he kicked my butt with Mewtwo. I hadn’t gotten that far in my Blue version yet, so I was totally stunned at what I saw before me. He swept the floor with me – every time.
Playing the game openly in public like that attracted ridicule. The overall “vibe” about Pokémon going around the school was enough to transform us into closeted Pokénerds. No more battles in Gym class. No more trading cards at the lunch table. No more discussing the latest episode of the anime on the bus. These all became “secret” activities.
The reason for the ridicule stemmed mostly from ignorance and the preconceived notion that this was a child’s game. If the other kids had played the game, then maybe they’d realize it was a fantastically designed adventure, with more depth than the Mariana Trench.
Sadly, this mindset isn’t exclusive to 8th graders, and people in all walks of life feel the game is only for children. Most of these opinions are based solely on ignorance and misunderstanding, and people often reject what they don’t know or understand. To change their perception, they need to be informed. They should ask someone why they like that game, instead of dismissing their enjoyment as childish or out of character. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to hear the other side of the argument.
If it wasn’t for this highly misguided perception of Pokémon, my friends and I would have continued outwardly expressing our love for Pokémon. Unfortunately, we shelled up.
It wasn’t until I got Sapphire version that I started to ease out of my shell. In 3rd Gen, I got really into the mechanics of the game. How abilities worked, EV and IV training, Double Battle strategies. It was a brand new frontier, and I dove in head first.
Most of my friends at the time were also playing the game, and the majority of them weren’t ashamed of it. This, along with the awesome game mechanics I had discovered, helped me come out. I now had a good explanation for why I loved the game, and I also had a network of friends, who weren’t ashamed of playing the game, to help back me up.
But it wasn’t until Gen 5 that I fully came out.
Because of my excitement for Black and White, I started looking for Pokémon podcasts on iTunes. I stumbled upon It’s Super Effective. I believe Steve had just either written an article about not being ashamed of playing the game, or he was talking about it on the podcast, and it really hit home.
With my reinvigorated passion, and a more mature view of the world, I began to embrace my fanaticism. I was no longer ashamed of playing in public. Before, if someone asked me what I was playing, I would become defensive and reluctantly tell them. But now, I just tell them it’s Pokémon, as if it doesn’t matter. It could be New Super Mario Bros. or Resident Evil. It’s just a game I’m playing, and it’s awesome. If you don’t like it, cool, and if you don’t like me because of it, that’s cool, too. It doesn’t bother me, because I know that you’re missing out on something special.
And it’s because of my self-actualization that you’re reading this article today.
So, I encourage each and every one of you to think about why you love this game. If you hide it from people, like many people do, then try to determine why. It may take time, just like it did for me, but maybe one day you’ll be free of this stigma created by an uninformed society.
Leave a comment below to help start the process, and for those who are well known Pokénerds, leave some thoughts of your own on the subject.
Who knows; maybe you’ll start your own podcast one day.
Written by Scott
Proofed by Greg