So Your Kid’s Into Pokemon… Now What?

A while back, a friend of mine asked me about Pokemon. Her kids were obsessed with it, but what could she turn that into a good thing? I gave her some (valid) advice at the time, but now that my kids are into it, there’s a bit more to add.

Super-basic, mostly obvious:

  • Reading – if your kids aren’t reading yet, there’s a bunch of stuff on the cards, from the rules to the flavortext that they can read. Ask them questions about the various creatures, and see if they can figure things out by reading the text.
  • Numbers – maybe they’re not reading yet. There’s a ton of numbers. Can they figure out which has more health or does more damage? These are in consistent places on all the cards, so just get them to compare.

Somewhat less obvious:

  • Pokemon are often based off of real-world creatures or things. Can you figure out what they are?
  • Most of the names are puns. What’s a pun? What’s *this* name referring to?
  • Many Pokemon “evolve” or have multiple “evolutions”. Spot the differences. The different evolutions’ names are often related, and are often plays on words. Why are they funny or weird?

More effort:

The game itself is actually pretty solid & requires some interesting thinking. While building a deck is both complex and expensive, there are “theme decks” and “starter decks” that are complete, and can be played straight out of the box (just make sure you’re getting the right thing. If you want a theme deck, get two. If you’re getting a starter, you can usually play two players with one deck).

From there, you’re now using the rules & the information on the cards to try to make strategic decisions. Why do you set an “Active” Pokemon vs. a benched one? When do you decide to retreat? If you’re winning or losing, why?

Other things to do:

  • Create your own Pokemon
  • Create your own evolutions of existing or original Pokemon, trying to capture the sense of humor in the naming & design
  • Create your own “moves” for the game
  • Draw Pokemon doing random things

I guess the thing is, while we tried to delay the onslaught of Pokemon in our house, once J was in school, it was largely inevitable. We could fight it, and have him miss out on this big social “hub” of activity at school, or we could get the most out of it we could. While the cards can be $$$, they’re also great as incentives – at $0.40/card, roughly, as an incentive they have a value that far exceeds their cost. 😀

Anyway. I know this isn’t likely to get read by anyone ever, but if it does, and you got here because your kid is obsessed with Pokemon, I hope this helps.