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Pokémon Is For Children (But That Doesn't Mean You Have To Act Like Them)

Pokémon Sword & Shield is made for kids, and fully grown adults getting heated about decisions made to appeal to kids comes off as childish.

To say there's been a lot of talk about Pokémon lately is pretty much an understatement. There hasn't just been talk about the franchise, but what has felt like incessant and perpetually heated arguing. To break down the debate into the two sides into which most online commenters generally fall, one believes that development company Game Freak has been neglectful and inconsiderate of its player base, while the other feels Game Freak has done a lot to iterate on the previous games in the franchise and should be respected for its accomplishment. That said, one thing worth keeping in mind before jumping into any Pokémon discussion is that it's a kid's game, and fully grown adults getting heated about decisions made to appeal to kids comes off as, well, childish.

Something everyone can agree on is that Pokémon at the very least began as a game intended to be played almost exclusively by children. Its present-day competitive fanbase wouldn't exist without the numerous kids who unwrapped Pokémon Red and/or Blue one Christmas morning or Channukkah night and suddenly found themselves weeks later on the playground convinced that their Dragonite could easily best their best friend's Charizard mano a mano.

Pokémon's monster collecting and battling roots can be traced all the way back to the late 80s, when Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei was released for the Famicom. Then in 1992, the first Shin Megami Tensei title was released for the Super Famicom, as was Dragon Quest V, which also featured a monster raising mechanic. These are more mature RPGs than even what Pokémon would eventually become. While Pokémon does include a technical component that requires a deep level of understanding in order to compete with the game's most dedicated fans, it's an element of the game essentially relegated to the background. On its surface, Pokémon are bright and cheerful, because to not be immediately accessible to children would risk losing its primary audience.

Playing Pokémon in childhood, and then transitioning the deeper (at least on the surface) Dragon Quest or Shin Megami Tensei franchises into teenhood would be a natural progression for a budding RPG fan. Enjoying Pokémon games beyond the age of the audience for which they're primarily intended is, of course, more than okay, the same way adults obsessing over Steven Universe is okay.

Just because entertainment is created with an audience of children in mind, that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't still plenty for adults to enjoy. It's common knowledge that kids cartoons include jokes that will only be understood by adult caretakers dutifully watching alongside a child or children. That said, it would be far from reasonable for those adults to expect kids shows to cater to them by including more or better adult humor.

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This isn't a perfect 1:1 analogy; after all, Pokémon has a built-in audience of adults thanks to those who got hooked on Red and Blue and never grew out of a pretty consistently great game franchise. An idea that often gets lost, however, is that each year, new generations of children will be unwrapping their very first Pokémon game, without decades of accumulated expectations informing their enjoyment of it.

It's those kids for whom new Pokémon games are intended first and foremost. Only if they can successfully inspire joy and wonder in the children, then does pleasing the hardcore fanbase become an objective.

It's fine to express displeasure with a decision that runs counter to what you personally may enjoy. Once that opinion turns into vitriol towards human beings making products for children to enjoy, it starts to look less like just a personal opinion and more like a temper tantrum. Plenty of the kids who will receive Pokémon Sword & Shield this holiday season have learned to grow out of staging temper tantrums. It's a lesson that certain adults with Twitter accounts could stand to learn too.

NEXT: Someone Modded Minecraft To Look Like Lego

Gaming Detail: Hidden Character Details In Pokémon Sword & Shield
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