Our house was invaded by Pocket Monsters last summer. No, I am not referring to those little balls of lint that dwell in the nethermost corners of pants pockets. I am talking about those Pokemon cards, characters and cartoons that obsessed my nine-year-old son Corey for months.

         My husband and I were amazed to hear him  speaking Pokemonics, a language singular to Pokemon players. Words like Snorelax, Charizard, and Gyrados became part of his basic vocabulary, which makes me think educators should be taking notes. Maybe nouns and adjectives, or even foreign languages could be taught using trading cards of strange looking characters with special powers and points attached.  They could even name a method of teaching after it: Pokessori.

         While completely puzzled by Pokemania, we tried not to appear totally out of it by making stupid comments like, “Don’t trade Pikachu; he’s darling!” Evidently, cuteness is not a factor among serious Pokemon players. Actually, I have found that trying to be cool in front of my kids can sometimes be a slippery slope. I made that mistake when I told my daughter I thought Puffy Combs were a cute hair accessory. (But we'll save that for another article.) I must admit though, I am not a complete Poke-idiot. Even I know that Beedrill has been retired, and therefore is considered to be a rare Pokemon.  Duh!

       There are actually 150 Pokemon, each with its own funky name and special powers. Players act as “trainers” and try to catch as many Pokemon as they can. Once captured, the creatures help to nab other Pokemon.  When all the Pokemon have been acquired, the player becomes a Pokemon Master.

       The beauty of this game is that it is nonviolent.  (Of course, so is professional wrestling, but let’s not go there). Okay, the monsters might tail whip and seismic toss one another, but none of them really gets hurt. Pokemon victims only fall asleep, become paralyzed or act confused. Hey, that happens to me every time I try to watch The Fishing Channel. Could I have latent Pokemonic tendencies? Maybe my Pokemoniker should be Somnibass.

           Many a friendship has been bonded as well as broken over Pokemon cards. Woe to the veteran collector who cheats a rookie by trading a basic Pokemon card for a more powerful card. Most traders look out for each other though, because they are smart enough to know that they’ll build a reputation for fair practices if they do. Negotiating skills, fairness, advocating the rights of the less experienced… hmmm, there is more to this Pokemon business than meets the eye. Maybe they ought to make an adult version of this game. Seems to me these are lessons for kids of all ages.

         So come on over, and bring your Pokemon cards! I know where I can get my hands on a Beedrill. He’s no Pikachu, but he’ll do in a pinch.

Written by Patricia Eggertsson

Copyright 1999, 2000

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