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10/13/05 20:30:00 - Junkie Confessions
“What is it?”
Miss Aimee, Aren’s social worker brought her hands out from behind her back, holding the gift.
Gasp!!! “The Official Pokemon Handbook!” Aren was absolutely delighted, and dropped nearly everything for the next 90 minutes in order to study Pokemon. Every now and then, he’d pipe up with something like, “Hmmmm… this has some very interesting information…” He’d then proceed to tell us about whatever particularly fascinating bit of information he’d unearthed. Voltorb evolves into Electrode when it reaches level 30 for example, and, as all other Electric-type pokemon, is very effective against water-type pokemon. He only stopped his research long enough to engage in a battle or two on his new “Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness” game.
It’s fascinating to me that something so ridiculously complex can appeal to such young minds. Now, when I say complex, I really mean it. There are roughly 160 different pokemon in the game, which are roughly divided into 15 different “types”. Each type has inherent advantages against some types and weaknesses against others. To make matters more complicated, while most of the 160+ creatures in the game are categorized into just one of these types, some are combinations of types. Add to this the role-playing concept of “levels” – the higher your level, the more powerful the character – and the fact that most pokemon can be classified as one type but may have attacks from very different types, and you have a very involved set of strategies that must be mastered in order to be very good at the game. And this is being marketed to kids as young as 5. Incredible.
So, in an attempt to unravel the mystery (and because Aren makes me play whenever he gets stuck in the storyline), I started playing. And studying. And taking notes on strengths and weaknesses. Yes, it’s embarrassing. I’m a nearly-thirty-year-old man that is perplexed enough by Pokemon to go far beyond learning the bare minimum needed to not lose. I have become obsessed.
In my defense, I like to say that there are elements of strategy that would rival chess. In some of the mini-games intense planning is absolutely required. Or maybe I’m just a moron. While Aren introduced me to it (much like the pitch used by dealers – “the first one’s free”) I can’t stop playing the game. I find myself playing even when Aren’s asleep. I try to blame him for it, saying “He keeps waking up and asking why I’m not playing”. While it’s true that he does that, it wouldn’t be easy to weasel my way out of it, if I needed to. I have a problem. I’m becoming an overage, overweight poke-holic.
Like most addicts, I can easily say that it could be worse. I’m not, for example, about to start buying and swapping trading cards. I’m definitely not going to start discussing strategy with any 11-year-old boy that comes my way. I pray that I will be able to control myself long before that point. I hope to find the self-control necessary to think about other things during the day and not dream of Poke-battles at night. I suppose that the best thing I can hope for is my wife’s continued ridicule to keep me in check. I pray that some day I’ll be able to play the game truly because Aren wants me to, not because it’s like crack for some juvenile part of my brain. Some day I’ll be better.
But in the meantime, does anyone know how to beat the Pokemon Bingo’s Pikachu card in Realgam Tower?
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Aren is undergoing a bone marrow transplant to fix the immune system defects that caused the loss of his little sister, Lily. To learn more, click here.
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