Seventeen years after its inception, Nintendo’s “Pokémon” continues to grasp the attention of college students who were born between 1991 and 1993.
According to Bulbapedia, the idea of “Pokémon” started with Satoshi Tajiri, its creator, and his bug collecting fascination during his childhood. This hobby grew into the idea of training and competing with many different kinds of animals and insects.
Tajiri grew up with Asperger’s Syndrome and could only focus steadily on one thing at a time. Because of this, he spent so much time creating his own games as a teenager that he nearly failed high school, according to Bulbapedia.
When “Pokémon Red” and “Pokémon Blue” were released in the U.S. in 1998, the franchise—video games, plush toys, figurines, trading cards, clothing, TV shows, movies and more—began its growth.
Psychology major James Kinney said he has been playing Pokémon since he was about five years old.
“One of the main things that I liked about Pokémon growing up was the Pokémon themselves. I liked the fantastical creatures and the idea of a world where we could befriend and train them. I was fascinated by the way they grew and evolved and by their individual powers,” said Kinney.
So what else makes the game appealing? Kinney said he thinks it is the way it challenges the mind.
“I’ve always enjoyed strategy games, and the strategy of the battles paired with getting to raise the Pokémon—in the video games at least—made for endless hours of entertainment as a child,” said Kinney.
Theatre major Ashton Tillery said she enjoyed the bonds with other players and the Pokémon themselves the most.
“There are so many characters, but you develop really strong affections for things you didn’t realize you could, and it helps you discover a part of yourself that you didn’t know existed,” she said.
So why exactly is this “Pokémania” still effecting the 1990s generation?
“I think it is like a security blanket. I think it has a lot to do with how quickly our generation has to grow up and, sometimes, how we are not raised properly and so we can look back to something that’s been consistent throughout a lot of people’s lives,” said Tillery.
Kinney said he thinks it is because “Pokémon” is one of the earliest childhood memories that the 1990s generation has. “It’s something that people who I have met recently talk about, and it has become a conversation starter and has been something that helped me make new friends as a college student,” he said.
The Pokémon hype is even more prevalent since “Pokémon X” and “Pokémon Y” were released Oct. 12 of this year. The game introduced the newest kind of Pokemon, the fairy-type.
The new graphics also bring the 3D concept to the once 2D pixelated games. The original voice actor of one of the most well-known Pokémon, Pikachu, also returns in “X” and “Y.”
With the release of “X” and “Y” and a new TV show called “Pokemon Origins” just wrapping up, will this phenomenon continue to be as epic in proportion in years to come?
“There are some people who think that it is past its prime at this point and should have ended before it got ‘weird,’ but I also know there are other people who are still excited to see where it is going. I don’t think the mania is going anywhere,” said Kinney.