- Posted April 26, 2011 by
Pokémon - Not Just For Kids
Since the year 1996, Pokémon has become an international phenomenon. With almost 700 episodes of a highly successful television show, 16 movies and over 24 bestselling video games, Pokémon is a household name around the world. All ages enjoy the video games, though there is a stigma among adults playing the games.
Originating in Japan, the franchise quickly swept the nation in the mid-nineties. The cartoon still airs in the mornings every weekend among children’s programming. Pokémon has always been targeted toward the children demographic, though it has proven to be quite popular among many ages. Every year children, parents, college students and the like compete in national Pokémon competitions and continue to show affection for the franchise.
With their target demographic clearly being children, much stigma comes with playing the Pokémon video games. “Sometimes when I’m playing Pokémon games while waiting for my bus I get snooty looks from people walking by,” Sarah McIntyre, a college student, said, “but I know tons of my friends who are the same age as me play the games too.” McIntyre brings her Nintendo DS everywhere she goes.
The bestselling game on the Nintendo DS, the current generation of their handheld gaming devices, are the Pokémon games. In 2007, the Pokémon games that were released that year sold around 15 million (Nintendo.com). Without exception every year they release a new one it becomes an instant bestseller.
“It’s like people think it’s some game where these cute creatures sit around and eat food or something,” Benjamin Ward, a senior in high school who has been playing the games most of his life, said, “there is so much math and strategy involved that most kids probably don’t even play it to its fullest. I know I didn’t when I was young and playing my Gameboy, but it was still fun.”
All ages were represented at the recent mall tour Pokémon did for the release of the new Nintendo DS games Black and White. Though the people outside the Pokémon community tend to stick up their noses and shake their heads when they see anyone teenaged and up playing the games, the community seems to embrace all ages.
Video gaming is something that tends to become more embraced over the years but still seems to be looked down upon by adults, according to Ward. “I think of video games in this day and age like comic books. They used to be considered something that only kids were supposed to read, but that is becoming more widely accepted and so are video games,” Ward said.
Michelle Smith has been playing the Pokémon video games since she was ten years old. She continues to plays the games and it does not bother her if people think she’s too old to be playing them. “Why should it matter to anyone else, really? Sure, there’s a stigma that has been there and will always be there, but it goes beyond Pokémon,” Smith said.
Both Ward and Smith have continued playing the Pokémon video games since they were around 10 years old. They claim to have never drifted apart from the franchise and continue to love the gameplay and characters.
David Barrowman, a 24 year old college student who lives in Indianapolis, Ind., found his way into the Pokémon games a little differently. “Of course I was exposed to Pokémon when I was a boy but I never really got into the games like a lot of my childhood friends did,” Barrowman said.
Barrowman did not grow up a huge video game player. He typically spent his time running around outside and being very active. As a college student, he usually has a lot of waiting around time in between classes during the week. Barrowman met a friend who is really into the Pokémon Nintendo DS games and he just scoffed at the idea.
“I guess you could say I was part of that well-known Pokémon gamer age stigma,” Barrowman said, “I never thought I would ever even try to get into gaming, let alone Pokémon – something I immediately associate with children. But one day I tried playing one of the games and was immediately hooked.”
The Pokémon games have proven to be bestselling, addictive adventure games that appeal to all ages for many different reasons. Though there is an assumption that only little kids play the game, one walk into a nearby video game store and one can be proven wrong.