One of the earliest memories in my life I can recall is about Pokemon. I must’ve been about four or five in my family’s old green minivan driving along and up a dirt trail of a mountain of some sorts – I had my GameBoy with Pokemon Blue in the cartridge slot and all I can remember is picking Bulbasaur as my starter and watching it evolve into Ivysaur over and over and over again because I couldn’t figure out how to save the game.
Since then a lot has changed: I’ve figured out the save function of the Pokémon games, and several spin off and main games have added another six generations, 801 Pokémon total, to the mix. The world around me has changed but even with all the amazing additions, the leaps and bounds, the metamorphosis that the Pokémon franchise has undergone, I take solace in the fact that throwing a Pokéball and getting your opponents HP down to zero hasn’t. When so many things refuse to stay the same in life these small, precious memories become exponentially more dear to me.
Pokémon has taught me more than I ever could have imagined. Through the tough training of a Magikarp to evolve to a Gyrados I learned to never underestimate and count someone out; everyone has potential to do incredible things. Through having the option to either run away from a wild battle, or grind through it for experience points I learned that putting in the time and the hard work is the only way to become a champion in your field. Through the ever-growing world-wide connectivity of the games, and the inability to catch version exclusives and complete the Pokédex without trading with a friend, I’ve learned that you can never truly succeed by doing things all by yourself. Above all I’ve learned the value and power of teamwork, friendship and hard work to reach your goals and dreams.
Socially, Pokémon has connected me to hundreds, if not thousands of people throughout my life. In my younger years it helped me make my first few friends – using the link cable to battle and trade whenever I got the chance to have a play date. More recently, through the power of the Internet, Pokémon has allowed me to interact, befriend, trade and battle people on the other side of the world instantly! First hand, I’ve seen these creatures and the amazing world that they live in break the language barrier, close the age gap and forge unbreakable friendships with people that I would never have the opportunity to normally interact with. And that’s without all the amazing people I’ve got to meet as Pokémon GO as taken over the world.
I didn’t realize it then, but when I took those first steps into the tall grass outside of Pallet Town in Pokémon Blue almost twenty years ago I wasn’t starting a mere video game – Those first steps were the beginning to the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure that spans multiple regions, thousands of interactions with people around the globe and creates infinite precious memories. It’s been a journey like no other so far, and I hope it never ends.
Thank you Pokémon for the past twenty-one years. Thank you for staying by my side; no matter where life has led me, no matter how tall the grass got.
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