Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She holds a B.A. in English and an Associate's in Computer Game Design. She is a life-long gamer.
Why Are So Many Adults Interested in a Children’s Game?
The popular Pokémon games and related media, including the anime and manga series and trading card game, were created for children. There is no denying that fact. Despite its origins as a children’s game and anime, Pokémon has a much wider appeal. Many of the people who were children when Pokémon was first created over 20 years ago still find themselves drawn to the world of Pokémon. Many of the original Pokémon fans are still hooked on the series, despite aging much more rapidly than the anime’s main character, Ash. Why are so many of the original Pokémon fans still following the series two decades later as grown adults?
Some adult Pokémon fans never left the series and continued to pick up the latest iteration of the games each time a new one was released. Others might have attempted to put aside childish things at some point in their adolescence, only to be inexplicably pulled back into by the series’ after years away. There are even some newer adult Pokémon fans who first started playing as adults.
The main thing that draws adults back into the world of Pokémon is nostalgia. As the generation who played the original Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow games get older and remember the good old days as a Pokémon trainer, they may be tempted to pick up one of the newer incarnations of the series for the sake of nostalgia. This is why the recent Pokémon spin-off games focusing on first-gen Pokémon (the mobile game Pokemon Go, and first-generation remakes for the Nintendo Switch, Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu) are so popular right now.
The original generation who grew up with Pokémon is now in their late twenties and early thirties. This generation now has more disposable income that they can use on hobbies. It makes sense that the things that were popular when they were children would experience a popularity surge. This group looks back fondly on their childhood interests. Playing Pokémon, either the original versions that they grew up with or trying the newer, updated iterations of the games, can bring back that childlike sense of wonder.
Many fans never left the series and have faithfully been coming back to experience each new generation of Pokémon since Red and Blue were first released. These fans may still have their original Pokémon team, whom they have transferred to each new game as they have been released, growing up with their very first Pokémon. These dedicated fans never outgrew the series, and still eagerly await the next generation of Pokémon games.
Though each of the Pokémon games follows the same basic story—collect all of the badges and defeat the Elite Four while collecting as many Pokémon as possible—each new set of games offers plenty of new experiences, not to mention new Pokémon, to keep lifelong fans coming back for more.
The Rising Popularity of Nerd Culture
Nerd culture in general has become more popular in recent years. Because it is more trendy, to be interested in things that are considered “nerdy,” such as video games and anime, more adults are now more willing to openly share their interest in Pokémon, and other “nerdy” interests publicly. Further, people who would have otherwise not been interested in Pokémon may jump on the bandwagon when they see their friends playing the games.
Some newer adult fans may have been dragged into the series by a family member or even a friend. These games offer a variety of ways to play together, including trading and battling Pokémon, so they could be a great way for parents to bond with their children. Some adults who never go into the series as children may find themselves drawn in by their own children. Pokémon is a family-friendly game series that can be enjoyed by all ages, so these games are excellent ways for families to spend time together.
Some adults who may have never gotten into the series as children themselves may also be pulled into it by a friend or significant other who still wants to play the new Pokémon releases, but doesn’t have anyone else to trade Pokémon with. Some newcomers who may not have had an interest in the series when it started may be pulled into the phenomenon by someone whom they are close to who wants someone to play with.
Yearning for a Simpler Time
With the mounting responsibilities of adulthood, many adult gamers may yearn for a simpler time in their lives, when their biggest concern was collecting Pokémon badges and becoming a Pokémon master. These games are a relaxing way to blow off steam after a stressful day of work and can help over-worked adults take their minds off their real-life responsibilities for a while.
Pokémon: Fun for All Ages
Pokémon is a fun game at any age. Just because it is targeted toward kids doesn't mean that older people can't enjoy it. Even if you have already played a few Pokémon games, each generation offers a collection of new Pokémon, improved gameplay, and new features. Even if you only played the first-generation Pokémon games, the Gen 1 remakes are sure to pull you in and make you remember the fun you had exploring the Kanto region all those years ago.
© 2019 Jennifer Wilber
sib on September 05, 2020:
love this! 21 now and have been wondering if I've held on for too long, but this was a great read.