Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Squirtle has died of Dysentery

I've been thinking all too much about Pokémon Go, and why I don't understand (at least the Pokémon part of) its appeal.
(I respect it, I think it's fine if you like it. I'm not here to criticize you. See? I'm even using the accent mark and everything!)

And I think I figured it out, in a way.
There's an article that refers to people around my age, born in the mid-to-late 70s, as the Oregon Trail Generation, and that's very fitting to the story.

I received a Gameboy in 1989, when I was 13, as a Bar Mitzvah gift from my Hebrew School class. It was the most amazing thing for a kid.. A Nintendo, merely the size of a brick, that you could carry around and play games on (in adequate lighting). Like an even-more-scaled-down Super Mario. And everyone's favorite, Tetris. Amazing!

"Pokémon Red and Blue", the first pair of games in the series to be released in the US, came out in September of 1998, a "mere" 9 years later.
But you know where I was in September 1998? I was a fresh college graduate. I was working.
And I had long stopped playing with my Gameboy. It was a kids' toy. There wasn't a concept of "playing mobile games" for adults. We had our Palm Pilots running Solitaire games but that wasn't quite the same. We didn't have time for any Nintendo Link Cable to really attempt to grok what Pokémon was all about, and it looked kinda stale and boring and repetitive as a single-player game, some sort of Final Fantasy clone with even less story.
And our computer-game time was spent on more "computery" games. The Dooms. The Quakes. The Warcrafts. And our good friend, Civilization.

But those little kids just a couple of years behind me in school? The early "millennials"?
They got handed this "social mobile game" at the most social time of their lives: high school and college.
They bonded over it. They related to it. They knew their Pikachu from their Magikarp, traded their Mews for Mewtwos, and discussed how to find the elusive Missingno. They were really the first kids to "play mobile games" like it was a thing in itself.

Nevermind those kids a few years behind them. Those kids just took for granted that Pokémon was part of the world.

And those "little kids"? They're now in their early-to-mid 30s. They're full-grown adults who don't think it's strange to play Pokémon, and even feel "nostalgia" for something that was completely after my time.

Of course there are exceptions. There are 40 year olds who go to the Pokestops and the Pokegyms and play with their Pokeballs (ok, sorry, got a little disrespectful for a minute.. ahem). But tell me that you don't relate to this even a little bit.

What about the older folks?
People older than those of us from the Oregon Trail, well.. they just weren't in their late teens/early 20s at the right time to completely dismiss Pokémon out-of-hand. So they can irrationally dislike something else from pop culture; take your pick.

It's just us, whose formative mobile-gaming years weren't really allowed to blossom until we had missed the Pokémon train, who are destined to never feel like we "gotta catch 'em all".
And we like it that way! Get off our collective lawns!

Am I completely off-base here?


  1. El-P explains the phenomenon better than anyone else I've seen:


    1. I have so many questions about this video. Starting with "Who is this guy and why does he look like John Eno?"

  2. Here's the whole story:


    And I'm kind of offended by your implication that all white people look the same to you.


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