Evolving with Pokemon

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I must’ve been good the day I got Pokemon Blue.

My dad came home and asked me if I wanted a Gameboy. The KB Toys in the mall had bright red shelves and all the video games were behind the counter. The wall behind the teenage cashier split with rows of Pokemon Red on the left and symmetrical rows of Pokemon Blue on the right.

My dad bought me a blue Gameboy Pocket and Pokemon Blue. Did he know what doors he had opened?

Pokemon came into my life when I was a shy 8-year-old Asian-American growing up in a white suburb. Pokemon Blue was something to share with my peers. Classmates would bring Gameboys to school and we’d battle or trade. We shared tips and Pokemon news. During a rainy-day recess Matt handed me his red Gameboy Pocket and asked me to catch a Scyther. His mouth agape when he saw the green monster with blades for arms locked in a safari ball. From then on classmates recognized me as a Pokemon Master.

Kevin became my rival. He caught all 150. We would meet at the center of the basketball court, our Pokemon battle court, to link up and play or pretend we were the real deal. He was one of the first friends I hung out with after school. Our friendship started with one game, then expanded over many.

Trading cards. Movie premieres. Eevee evolving into Umbreon on my birthday. The time a cousin’s boyfriend made Pokemon cries over the phone. (I knew he’d be a keeper then). The amount of childhood memories with Pokemon matches surpasses the amount of little monsters now more than 700.

Pokemon grew up with me. Blue, Gold, Sapphire, Pearl, HeartGold, Black, X, and later this year Sun. As a child the game gave me an identity, but its significance in my life has evolved to the way men and women recall their days playing sport. Pokemon has helped me make new friends over a shared love of a game that teaches companionship, courage, persistence, and proper bicycle-usage etiquette.

Happy 20th Anniversary Pokemon and Thank you.

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