'Pokemon is always with everyone,' says its creator
By Spiros Tzelepis, Greece
The Pokemons are toys which have entered our lives to such an extent that it is difficult to say that we don't know about them. As a profile of their creator, Mr. Satoshi Tajiri, in Asia's Shapers 2001(http://www.zdnetindia.com/news/specials/25movers2001/stories/18291.html) mentions very successfully: "Love them or hate them, chances are you've seen them. They've invaded your television, disrupted the lives of parents as kids yell and scream for the latest Pikachu doll."
The Pokemons are a fad, and last year they created a huge paranoia all around the world. My aunt who teaches in a primary school says that last year her students were so obsessed with their Pokemons that they didn't speak about anything else. Their talks continued inside the classrooms making it difficult for her to teach. Then, I also attended the 3rd World Summit on Media for Children where I discovered that teachers spoke angrily against the Pokemons arguing that they promote violence and that their students don't care about anything else. Moreover, I can tell I had the experience of verifying myself that some children were obsessed to an unhealthy extent when a couple with two young kids moved in a new apartment block next to my house. Every day I could hear them chatting vehemently about the latest Pokemons -actually the word "Pikachu" is the one they used to repeat all the day- while they were frequently dropping these toys in my garden, and I or my parents were kindly asked to pick them up. Later a friend from France wrote me that his little brother was crazy about Pokemons, which indicates that children worldwide share the same hysteria. Of course, like every fad, the Pokemon madness slowed down eventually so I thought that it was a good time to have their creator, Mr Tajiri, speak about them. At this point, I want to mention that this was one of the most difficult interviews I have attempted since at first I was misguided by people who didn't have the kindness to tell me about how to reach Mr. Tajiri. On the contrary, they told me, "If you are adequate, find a way yourself". Luckily, not everyone is like that, and thanks to those who have always supported my effort, I was able to contact Mr. Tajiri who I need to mention was most helpful. Let's listen to what he has to say.
Would you please introduce yourself a little to the readers?
How was Pokemon created? When did such an idea occur?
It was around April 1984 when I started to think about "Pokemon". At that time, the main topic in the game industry was Nintendo "GAME BOY". "GAME BOY" had an accessory called a communication cable with which we could change the game's data by connecting 2 GAME BOYS. If I could create the game, I rather wanted to use it as a communication tool than to use it as a fighting game tool (trendy at that time). I thought that I could create the game with which something valuable for the players would come and go. For example, a game whose aim would be to exchange something. Then, I created "Pokemon" to make good use of this idea ("exchange").
What is the background of "Pokemon"?
It is to capture Pokemon, to raise Pokemon, and then to exchange Pokemon. How pleasant if the players get the new Pokemon by doing it! It is sure that both of them will have a good relationship. If they exchanged that Pokemon to another player, the communication circle would be wider and wider through Pokemon. I think it's enjoyable if they play like this. It happens that my Pokemon is in the stranger's cartridge. Don't you think it's exciting?
What does Pokemon bring to the children?
Decisively, it's a different world which would support the children's hearts. I think every person feels the different things in this game, but Pokemon is always with everyone. It's true.
As a creator of toys, what do you think would be the ideal toy or entertainment is?
To satisfy the curiosity and to be attached is my keyword. The toy which we don't lose our interest for looks simple. I will continue to create games with such a theme ever after.
In conclusion, what would you like to say to the children of the world?
I want to thank you all that you have been enjoying yourselves with Pokemon in many countries and in many languages. I am very glad if you would make friends with each other when you grow up through Pokemon. I hope that Pokemon would be your good friend forever.
It is almost 23:00 in the night and as I am reviewing the piece for a final time before I send it to be published, the window is open because of the heat and the children playing in a yard opposite my house are screaming "Pikachu". This is the only clear word I can make out of what they say. Perhaps this shows that the Pokemon fad hasn't yet disappeared despite the slowdown. Of course, nothing is permanent and some day the Pokemons will give their place to another toy; but whatever may happen, one thing is sure: the Pokemons will have marked the childhood of a whole generation of children.
Satoshi Tajiri, Representative Director, GAMEFREAK
History of works
The word "thank you" is very meaningless to express my gratitude towards Ichiya Nakamura. This piece wouldn't have been feasible without his help in reaching Mr. Tajiri and offering to translate from English to Japanese and vice versa.
Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002
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