It All Started in Gym Class

by @GeneticInsect

The year was 1998, I was in Grade 10 and there was a new phenomenon taking the world by storm. I had heard about Pokemon and wasn't impressed with catching little creatures. Not to mention RPGs weren't my preferred style of games. A friend of mine had brought his Pokemon Red game to Gym class and I had my first hands-on experience with it. He let me pick his first starter, I picked Charmander. I crushed his rival and headed down Route 1. Encountering a Pidgey and beating it was more than enough to convince me. After school I raced to the nearest department store and bought both Red and Blue. When I got home, I started up Red, picked Squirtle, and from there my adventure into the Kanto region began. 

I had caught most of the Pokemon but since I had no one to trade with, a few Pokemon remained unobtainable. My most wanted was Gengar. That smile, those eyes, I wanted it on my team so bad. I knew what I had to do. Although it wasn't socially acceptable to play Pokemon in High School, I didn't care. Going on a quest to catch 'em all was more important to me than what people thought of me. So I took the game to school, hoping to find a trading partner. Eventually my buddy agreed to trade with me. My quest was almost complete; 150/151. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a Nintendo event at an annual fair where they were trading out the mythical Pokemon Mew. I traded a Sandshrew and received the final Pokemon needed to complete the Pokedex.

Every game that came out with the Pokemon title, I had to have. I even had to buy an N64 to get classic games like Snap and Stadium. Even the not so fun games: Hey You Pikachu and Pokemon Channel, but I played them all through to the end because I was obsessed with Pokemon.

It wasn't just the games that got me hooked; I bought countless numbers of TCG booster packs from 7-11. (Where I was able to pull two shadowless holo Charizards, which at the time was BIG MONEY.) I went to my friends house every Saturday to watch the anime and play with the cards. Even stood in line to go see the movies where they handed out more cards. Every aspect of the franchise appealed to me which was good because it kept me interested until Gold, Silver and Crystal and whole new adventure with... MORE POKEMON? Time to do it all again. I picked Totodile and was on my way.

When Ruby and Sapphire came out, I had a new Girlfriend (whom I now call my wife) and Pokemon took a back seat to other things in my life, but I still bought both games (picked Mudkip) and played them when ever I had spare time. Diamond and Pearl were released and I was first in line to buy them. The updated graphics got me hooked again. My starter was Piplup. I played through the games and when I was done, lost interest again. It wasn't until Black and White (where my starter was... you guessed it: Oshawott) that I became a full time Pokenerd. 

Later on down the road I decided to create a twitter account, where I could share my love of Pokemon and talk to others who are into it as well. Good timing, because one month later XY was announced and my followers started coming to me for news and updates. More and more people started following me and before I knew it, I was...popular? That was a first. But i did my best and delivered all the news as soon as it was available. My true passion in Pokemon games was completing the Pokedex but people were coming to me for advice on breeding and battles so, I had to learn. XY came out, I picked Froakie, and I got into that one part of the game that always scared/confused me...breeding. Battling came later as I learned from a new friend and  follower on twitter. We spent hours chatting through DM and practicing on Showdown, eventually I picked it up and now feel pretty comfortable in the battle scene.

It has been a long journey full of water starters, and I know that I wont be done anytime soon. Gengar is still to this day, my all time favorite Pokemon, and I will continue to have one on all of my teams. I have two young boys who are slowly getting into Pokemon and being there to teach them everything I know is very exciting, because I get to relive the wonder and awe of experiencing Pokemon for the first time.