Pokémon aren’t free

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Woke up the boy this morning.

 

“Hey Bulblasaur, it’s time to get up.”

“Venusaur, I choose yo….”

“No. That is not how this works.”

“What?”

“You’re a Pokémon, you can’t summon other Pokémon. You have to do what I say. You have to fight when I say.”

>Insert random combat move yelled by child here<

“Oh look, you are back in your Pokéball. It’s time for breakfast. Get up.”

>this went on a bit more<

Got me thinking about how Pokémon are slaves to their Trainer’s whims. With no free will to make their own way in the world. That is as deep as I get for this Tuesday. Go forth and catch’em all!

Thoughts on the Nintendo Switch Super Bowl LI Commericial

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The Nintendo Switch Super Bowl Commercial came out yesterday. Showcasing the new console’s strength, playing games with others. This is Nintendo bringing back the feels from the playground Pokémon games of youth as well as the Wii era. Cooperative play at its finest.

I can’t wait to:

  • Wake up and play Zelda in bed. My wife won’t mind…
  • Punch my kid in the living room. Virtually, of course.
  • Live out my western quick draw fantasies.
  • Dance?
  • Force neighborhood children to watch me and my son play a two player game of Mario Kart. Seriously, who needs more players crowding up the home TV.
  • Discover new/rich friends who each have their own Nintendo Switch.

Will you be making the Switch?

How Wyatt and I got past a sleeping Snorlax

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A giant Snorlax blocked the Route 7 bridge. Wyatt wasn’t sure what to do.

250px-143Snorlax

He searched for other routes to take. Distracted himself by catching the odd Pokémon. Yet, the Snorlax slept on.

What Wyatt didn’t know is that the game had given him a context clue. The mystical Poké Flute would solve everything. The sleeping Snorlax’s reign of terror was about to end.

Furfrou

Furfrou

Wyatt came to me frustrated. So we pulled up a walkthrough and figured out where he was in Pokémon X. Sitting on my lap, the boy and I discovered that we needed to backtrack to the Parfum Palace. The owner was missing a Furfrou, which happened to be lost in a maze out back. After finding the Furfrou, we were lent the Poké Flute of power.

r7-wake-snorlax

We dashed back to Route 7, some ninja dude jammed out, and the Snorlax woke up. The Pokémon journey was saved!

What I love about sharing Pokémon with Wyatt is that it is a series he can play on his own. When he comes to a place where he needs help, we can sit down, engage, and devise a way forward. Together.

(As a side note: All my random Pokémon knowledge is finally being put to use. Super funny when I know what the evolved form of whatever-it-is is.)

The Pokémon Tourist

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Pokemon Logo

I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Even though I was 17 when Pokémon Red released, I have always been somewhat of a novice trainer. Following the series evolution across platforms, I have dabbled in different generations. Never completing:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Yellow
  • Pokémon Pearl
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • OR Pokémon Y

Pokémon just isn’t an obsessive thing for me. What does draw me are the solid game mechanics, relaxed world, and creature battling.

Pokémon Y represents the most time I have spent with the series. Clocking in at over 20 hours, I thought I was almost done with the campaign. Nope. A walkthrough confirmed that I am but halfway on my journey. Never going to be number one at that pace. Ash, I’ve failed!

Pokemon Y

As a dad, Pokémon has taken on a new meaning. It is a series that I can share with Wyatt. A series that encourages reading, fun gameplay, and quality time spent. Nintendo has indeed created a monster.

pokemonThis year, The Pokémon Company is celebrating Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. The Super Bowl ad above is but the cusp of this tidal wave. Throughout the year, Nintendo and GameStop are offering one rare creature download a month. Take a look:

  • Celebi: March 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Jirachi: April 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Darkrai: May 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Manaphy: June 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Shaymin: July 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Arceus: August 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Victini: September 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Keldeo: October 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Genesect: November 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Meloetta: December 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)

We’ll see if Wyatt and I can keep up with the pocket monster collecting. I’m still waiting for him to be ready for his own handheld console and copy of the game. We just aren’t there yet… but soon.

 

Guest Post: Why Should Christians Play Video Games?

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A deep question, for sure, but one which I’m happy to discuss!

Shadow of the Colossus

1. Video games give us a sense of wonder and engagement. Video games became our new cultural medium for the exchange of unwritten, yet still felt, ideas of our time. People still long for the epics of old from Homer’s Odyssey to the Lord of the Rings; video games give us an opportunity to engage and enter those realms in a way that hasn’t been possible with any previous generation.
callofduty

2. Video games give us an insight into popular culture. Capitalism, at the very least, provides a quantifiable measure of “what people like”. Call of Duty is what people like. Why do they like it? That is a question that a Christian can find out themselves by playing it. If not playing it, than at least understanding the dominant narratives, themes, and leisure activities of our fellow citizens.

3. Video games provide a tiny microcosm of the real world and our own personalities. Structured play provides challenges; every person desires to work and contribute something in the world. Video games also show us the way we think about reality and what rewards we wish to gain from life (tangible and intangible). Sometimes, they show us more of ourselves then we’d care to admit! Yet this self-examination lets us appreciate the diversity of taste and personality.

pokemon

4. Video games present an opportunity for human interaction and shared experiences. Contrary to the standard stereotype of “reclusive gamer” so often foisted upon us, gamers socialize just as often as everyone else – only they find a shared vernacular on the subject of video games. I will admit, in my Christian school upbringing, that I made many friends from our shared love of these video games, even when no one else understood our childhood obsessions. I can remember vividly converting our playground to the wild avarice of Pokemon collecting, or the utter brilliance of Star Fox 64. We were no longer strangers but compatriots in a shared hobby that, more than any other entertainment I’ve seen, engender fierce love and devotion. Many of those Christians remain my friends to this day, all because of video games.

5. That was only the past – now, the Internet has given all the opportunity to create connections with people around the world. Online gaming made social interaction, both for good and ill, a genuine part of the video game community. It is through the Internet that I have made new friends, Christians and gamers alike, who share that common experience – the video game theology community. We come from all different denominations and different background, yet still find gaming as a grounding point for discussion of everything.

And isn’t that what Christianity wishes to do? Christ gives us new life and salvation from sin. He allows us to reveal our personalities to each other without barriers and without borders, to speak openly of everything. What a vehicle it is that our human creations ultimately lead back to the Creator!

Written by Zachery Oliver

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Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.

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