Speaking One Language
For as long as I can remember, interacting with people has always been difficult for me. I never really knew how to make friends let alone make small talk. Conversing with people was difficult because I couldn't relate with them, almost like there was a language barrier.
Don't get me wrong, little Blue still had friends. Most of the time it was because my house was the happenin' place to be... Mainly because of how welcoming my Mom made it with treats and awesomeness. But, there were many times my friends would end up watching baseball with my Dad in the living room.
But then 1998 came along. For you youngsters, that's the year North America received not only Red, Blue and Yellow versions of the game, but the anime as well. And then several months later in 1999 the card game also came over seas. Soon my time spent collecting rocks on the playground during recess transformed into collecting Pokemon.
As you might imagine there were a lot of my classmates who were all about the Pokemon craze as well. There were the kids who were into football, the kids who were into music, and those of us who were nerdy and already ahead of the curve. We all started speaking one language: Pokemon. And the great thing was it didn't matter if you played the games, collected the cards or watch the animated series because content from all these mediums blended together. At least at the time. Pokemon has gotten complicated, hasn't it?
Soon all the different cliques were united. We all loved talking about Pokemon. The conversation was already determined and everyone was invited. I finally felt like I didn't have to work at interacting with everyone. Soon, I even became a bit of a "Pokemon Professor" within our little group. Everyone would be asking me whether or not their trades were worth it, how to beat Dragonite, how to catch Mewtwo. It was a bit ridiculous, and I mean that in the best way possible.
For my birthday back in 1999 I remember my parents said I could take a small group of friends with me and we'd go see "Pokemon: The First Movie". Everyone was super jazzed, even me. It was weird because I wasn't normally excited about social gatherings, especially ones that revolved around me. But for the first time I finally felt accepted; liked, even. To this date, it was the best birthday I've ever had.
Not long after Pokemon Silver and Gold came out. Then Crystal shortly after that. Johto opened my eyes to a whole new Pokemon experience. It was awesome. Generation 2 still holds a special place in my heart to this day. However, it was about this time that my friends were starting to lose interest in the Pokemon world. A group of us that had topped nearly a dozen had become a trio: Me, Jeff and Joey. But that was OK. I didn't mind a close triangle of friends.
Not but a year later I moved away to a different town. I fell back into the old me: secluded and bad at talking to people. I even missed the release of the Hoenn, a play through of which never happened until the release of ORAS. I did pick FireRed back up when it was released though. I was hoping by doing so I might get that jolt of excitement back I experienced a few years back. That'd be about the time Kevin, aka Red, and I met. Once again the language of Pokemon came to my rescue.
Soon Generation 4 came about and that would be around the time when Yellow and I were together. I was sort of alone in the forth gen because Kevin had gone off to a different college, though we still conversed and played together when we could. I remember going to the local game store and purchasing Platinum. That was the most complicated Pokemon game of its time. Arguably one of the hardest Pokemon games of all time. I'll stop raving about it to save time, just know it's one of my favorite games within the series.
So Yellow. Yellow didn't get Pokemon at all. Even though I got her a copy of the game so that she could play along with me and her brother. As you all know, she did not. She may have gotten a badge or two but stopped after that. With the release of Black and White, Kevin and I were on top of the trend as well, however Yellow, despite getting a copy of White, failed to keep up and quit playing after getting her first Gym Badge.
It was a little disheartening for me that the woman I loved couldn't speak the language that had sheltered me from my social awkwardness all those years. The sadness continued for the release of BW2 and then XY. While Kevin and I couldn't stop talking about Pokemon, Yellow had yet to even start.
X and Y was really my step back into the game. The design of the game was flawless and interaction between friends and strangers alike were easier than ever. I was unemployed at the time, so I had tons of time to explore every avenue of the game. That's when I discovered YouTube in a way I hadn't experienced before. I started watching ShadyPenguinn and realized the Pokemon community was so much bigger than just a bunch of close circles of friends. I admired him for his ability to communicate with so many people with different backgrounds. That was something I didn't think I could ever do. Little did I know the language of Pokemon makes a lot of things possible.
It was some months later I decided to create Kanto Cast. I decided to more or less broadcast Kevin and I's conversations with the help of Yellow not imagining she'd soon be a much bigger part of it! Then the Kanto Nation started to grow and I found myself at the center of a conversation, a community. What's more it didn't feel strange or uncomfortable. I'm continuously humbled by the response of you, the Kanto Nation. I'm also glad that I can contribute to, and sometimes facilitate, a conversation that often starts with Pokemon but evolves into something greater.
Pokemon has given me a lot. It made my childhood more enjoyable, it made my friendships stronger and it has opened me up to a community of people from all around the world. A child's game, indeed. Through the power of one language we have all been able to engage with one another in ways that would have previously been highly improbable, if not impossible. I think that's pretty cool.