Pokemon leads to better brain health


Leland Domosley engages in a Pokemon 3DS battle to demonstrate the mechanics of the game.

Leland Domosley, Games Reporter

Ever since the invention of video games people have been wary. In 1958 the first video game was released. Like sports teams or restaurants, video game companies have their own rivals as well, pushing them to improve. The main three video game companies that come to mind for most are Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. Ever since they started to see how each one of them did they started to build bigger and better projects.

There are many genres of video games but some are better for improving skills then others. Strategy games are one of the genres out there for developing real life skills. There are two main types of strategy games which are real time and turn based. Both of these types of games help with thinking and building plans that help with real life events. 

Some games are harder to learn than others, so that’s why Pokemon is a great game for those who have not played many strategy games. In 1966 the first ever Pokemon game was published and games have been releasing every now and then with the newest one released on January 28th of this year. The main focus of this game series is to catch Pokemon on your journey to becoming the champion of the region. Each mainline game has a new place to explore with its own Pokemon to catch. One of the main reasons the game was liked was because of how simple it was, it’s like a harder version of rock paper scissors. In 1999, Pokemon had received a competitive scene from the fanbase, where the best of the best would battle their creatures against one another.

A big reason why people battled in Pokemon was due to how certain mechanics worked. Something GameFreak, the company that makes Pokemon, did was include trading Pokemon to other games. With the internet or cords to connect to devices people could trade to help people collect all the Pokemon. Some Pokemon could only evolve into stronger forms by trade, meaning that to collect all the Pokemon you would need to find other people to trade with. The other option when connected to someone else is to battle, this is how people got the idea to make groups to battle to see who was stronger.

Ever since the internet became available for trading more people have been able to connect to others via the GTS, the global trade system. People from all over the world have been able to talk to people outside of their country about something they enjoy. 

Alex Longacre, a student at Natrona High School who started to play competitively in Pokemon during 2020, said, “What keeps me playing Pokemon is the characters, strategies and diversity of every tier.” 

From my experience as a competitive player I agree with all the unique strategies that they can come up with. Most of the knowledge I learned about the game came from the past few years of playing in tournaments and the site Pokemon Showdown. 

There are many different tiers of the competitive scene so anyone can join a tier they feel confident in. Each tier allows and bans different Pokemon, moves, and abilities. One of the most common tiers people play when starting is OU, better known as overused. Pokemon that are the most used are the ones used for this tier meaning some of the most viable Pokemon are used for battle. Many things make a Pokemon good like its utility, stats, and coverage. 

The company that owns Pokemon, Nintendo, hosts tournaments every once in a while where people from all over the world compete to be the best player. The competitive tournaments are called VGC meaning Video Game Championships, there are rules in place to keep things fair such as no duplicates of any Pokemon or held items, some Pokemon are restricted so you can only have so much of them, and all Pokemon are set to the same level. Most competitive formats are in the doubles format, meaning you have two Pokemon against two enemy Pokemon.

When building a team coverage is one of the most important things to have in mind. One of the main roles Pokemon teams have is the offensive one. This role on the team is to keep pressure on the opponent to have them quickly fall apart. Something that can beat this role however is stalling it out. Some Pokemon are used to be a wall to keep the opponent from progressing in battle. Some moves it may have are status moves that will buff themselves or teammates or set up hazards to deter the enemy. 

All types of roles are in teams such as defensive, healer, switcher, and more. Some Pokemon make their own niche roles such as Ditto who can copy an opponent’s Pokemon and stats. However, any Pokemon used can fit really any role. It’s how the player uses their resources to succeed. It can be hard to get into but after learning some of the basics to battle like type matchups anyone has a chance. 

But does this help with real life skills, the answer is yes. Pokemon has encouraged players of all types to develop critical thinking skills. “What was unique about Pokémon,” says Jesse Gomez, former Stanford graduate student,“is that there are hundreds of characters, and you have to know everything about them in order to play the game successfully. The game rewards you for individuating hundreds of these little, similar looking characters.”

 Even for a beginner, the game still makes the player think about how they set up their teams, moves, and items. Some battles near the end of the game can have very complex strategies that range from using moves that can afflict debuffs to teams that set up weather conditions to gain an advantageous position. 

Other skills people will come across when playing Pokemon are sorting, adaptability, patience, and much more. One of the spin off titles called Pokemon Go encourages the people playing to go outside to collect the creatures. Studies have shown that people that have played Pokemon have had their minds changed to be more active. Gomez, who works for the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, conducted a study to see how brains had reacted to seeing Pokemon and the answer was that the brain had more activity in remembering then a person who hasn’t seen much Pokemon media. Video games give stress relief and help give the brain simulation, helping people to get better at solving problems, memorizing information, and paying better attention to surroundings and people. 

Some people say that video games do the opposite. If someone plays too much it can lead to them only wanting to play games instead of studying or going outside. The WHO, a world health organization, has conducted studies to see the effects of playing video games. There is something called gaming disorder that, according to the WHO, can be connected to other things like depression, anxiety or even obesity.

Pokemon gave a lot of jobs for people on the internet such as youtubers and reviewers who focus on the topic of Pokemon. VGC players earn a lot of money for doing tournaments and practice on official games or a site known as Pokemon Showdown. For in game battles they have to find certain stats and abilities for the Pokemon they would like to use. Thankfully in newer games in the Pokemon franchise items are available to change natures, abilities, and movesets.

Most of the money the company gets is from merchandise but the true winners can be the players who win big at tournaments. The knowledge people can get from the games can be fruitful in reality even if they do not wish to play the game after. Pokemon helps develop the mind for its audience and older players can use this for everyday things like work. As long as the players don’t get super addicted to playing it they will get many benefits from the experience.