After 20 years, young Pokémon trainers are still trying to catch 'em all

Posted March 6, 2016
Updated March 10, 2016

After a long day of classes, UNC-Chapel Hill senior Ryan Griffin makes his way into his room, sets his backpack down, gets comfortable and reaches for a familiar friend.

That’ s right Pokémon. Not what you were expecting? Well, the Nintendo staple has been a part of video gaming vernacular for almost 20 years. Griffin remembers the first time he ever laid his hands on the game.

“I remember my parents brought home this big plastic package with a Gameboy color, Pokémon blue, the guidebook and this little book light extension. I was ecstatic,” Griffin said.

In case you don’t remember much about the late 90’ s craze, at its core, Pokémon is a simple game. You capture, befriend and train these powerful creatures called Pokémon and then battle against your friends

and rivals, all to see who’s the greatest Pokémon master.

That game has turned into a monstrous franchise. Pikachu and his buddies at the Pokémon Company are a multi-billion dollar company. In 2014, License Global!, a licensing industry publication, said the Pokémon brand generates about one and a half billion dollars a year. Griffin played a role in that success.

“I just kept picking up the games, kept playing them. And when I got to college...that’ s when a lot of people break out their old stuff, trying to relieve their childhood,” he said.

2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the franchise. They’ e celebrating with give-aways, new games and even a Super Bowl Commercial.

Not only is it fun for gamers, but there could be positive health effects too. Doctors from schools of medicine across the country have said video games can reduce chronic pain and anxiety. The Vatican even blessed the series saying it was “full of inventive imagination”and based on “ties of intense friendship.”

Griffin says, no matter how old he is, Pokémon will always have a place in his heart.

“Sure it was marketed for kids...but you’ll still always love it. We’ll grow up to our 90’ s remembering Pokémon was there for us at age 5," he said.

That love for Pokémon led him to other video games. In fact, Griffin plans on working with the growing e-Sports industry when he graduates form UNC in May. And in case you were wondering, his favorite Pokémon is Dragonite.

Louis Fernandez Jr. is a contributor to the UNC Media Hub, which publishes work by students from various concentrations in the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism.


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