First on the kids’ cartoon scene in the mid-1990s, Pokémon has proven itself a lasting brand.
Starting out as a TV show, then moving to a video game, Pokémon (a.k.a. pocket monsters) has continued to thrive in the sophisticated world of video-game giants like Mortal Kombat and Call of Duty.
A big key to keeping the Japanese brand very much alive and well are the legions of Pokémon card players around the globe, many of whom are right here in the Lower Mainland.
Vancouver is playing host to this weekend’s Pokémon Spring Regional Championships, and will be the host city for the World’s TCG (Trading Card Game) and VG (Video Game) Championships Aug. 9-11 at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre.
“It’s like the Super Bowl,” PTO (Premiere Tournament Organizer) Sandy More of Surrey said about the August event. “Thousands and thousands of people will be coming from 30 different countries.”
The tournament this weekend is open, so the exact number of players is not available. If last year’s turnout is any indication, however, More believes up to 350 players could appear at the Empire Landmark Hotel.
This event is just one of five regional tourneys that are going on over the weekend. Other events are being held in Athens, Ga.; Foxborough, Mass.; Salt Lake City, Utah and Madison, Wis.
Regional winners will go to national events and then winners from there get invites to the Worlds.
Players compete in three age categories: juniors, born in 2002 or later; seniors, born in 1998-2001 and masters, born in 1997 or earlier.
“You would think it is a kid’s game and it is, but it’s an everybody game, too,” said More, herself a player. “I have parents that started because their kids play and who now play themselves. So you have a kid in each division and a dad playing as well. It gives everyone an opportunity to participate.”
More discovered the game when her son Darien was six and a half. Like a lot of kids at school he was into trading Pokémon cards. Wanting to make sure Darien wasn’t getting ripped off (some cards are worth more than others) More decided to do some research at a local games store in Surrey. Through that research she and her son found a whole world packed full of helpful people and an official Pokémon card players’ league.
In this neck of the woods the league operates at different gaming stores on Sundays, but as More points out, avid players can probably wander into their local game shop and play a game of pick-up Pokémon any time.
More said she soon discovered that the card game was a helpful parenting tool.
“I am a single mother of three, so it was very difficult to get just time with him (Darien),” said More about her now 12-year-old son, who played up until this past year. “It gave us an opportunity to engage, play and talk. It was a really good thing for us.
“But we could also interact with other kids and other parents.”
While at the end of the day the tournaments offer up bragging rights and the usual hardware, More says it’s just cool to be involved in positive play that delivers to kids a whole deck full of positives.
“They are doing math without even knowing they are doing math,” laughed More, who went on to list sharing, sportsmanship, mentoring and international integration as Pokémon pluses.