I was in the original Pokemon generation, and I am so happy about that. I am glad that I was a kid when this amazing game was released, when the TV show was on for the first time, when the graphic novels were just being released in the U.S. I am so proud to say that I still have a GameBoy Color and copies of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow! It was incredible being involved in the world of Pokemon, having those cute/awesome creatures as friends and allies, and sharing my love of the series with my peers.
However, I did grow up and go to college and never play Pokemon again until last year! With the release of Pokemon X and Y, the 6th generation of the games, I have delved back into this magical world and I will never regret it. In fact, I am embracing this game, its fictional world, and the entire world of Pokemon, both in my personal life and at my library. I am creating a Pokemon Club at my public library for middle and high school students.There is so much value in Pokemon for the teen community. Where do I even begin?!
Let’s start with the beneficial aspect of the video game. First of all, it requires dedication. Seriously. How many Pokemon are there now? The answer is about 700. If you don’t believe me, check out this updated PokeRap. Warning: your brain will be a little melted after all 9 minutes of it. You don’t have to catch all of them in the latest games, but there are still SO many to find, and even after you finish the game there is still so much left to do. You really have to commit to this game if you’re going to beat it, because if you don’t try then you won’t win it by beating the Elite Four. However, the game is forgiving: if you don’t beat it, you can keep training and then go try again. And again. Until you beat those supremely difficult Elite Four trainers and become the region Champion! Commitment, dedication, and practice are required, but if you don’t have those things you will learn them.
Let’s talk about the community. Pokemon would not be Pokemon without the community of people of all ages from all over the planet who play the game. You no longer have to be connected by a physical link cable to play Pokemon with other people. With the 6th generation of games it is possible to trade and battle Pokemon online with other players around the world. It also isn’t required to have your own internet connection to do this. You can connect to public wifi at places like libraries and bookstores, or go to places with a Nintendo event program, like Gamestop. By using the new online features players can interact with their local friends, or make new friends. They must share their Pokemon and items in order to receive others they might need. The game has restrictions that make it safe and fair to trade and battle online, and it rewards you for doing so – for playing with others in this new, safe environment.
Players also connect in person through the game. Negotiating fair trades with your friends can be tricky, but is very rewarding. You have to be fair to each other or it could actually hurt your friendship. Players learn to be generous, to give to each other, and help each other out with in-game problems.
Playing Pokemon is a great way for kids and teens to connect and make brand new friends as well. Teens connect over their shared game and interests and become involved in a community of players that they might not have been a part of before!
By starting a Pokemon Club at my public library I am hoping to bring in a new audience of teen and pre-teen patrons to my programs. I want them to participate in library events that get them connected to people they wouldn’t otherwise have met, to do activities that they wouldn’t normally do, and show them that their interests are important and popular. At Pokemon Club we’ll play the video games together, play the Trading Card Game as well, teach people who don’t know how to play the TCG, make Pokemon-related crafts, maybe make some themed snacks, and I’ll occasionally have prizes to give away.
My first Pokemon Club is on the last Monday of January, and they will continue to meet the last Monday of the month for the rest of the year!