Gotta Catch em All is a familiar slogan that has summarized the addictive nature of battling, catching, training, and breeding Pokemon since the first games hit store shelves in 1996. The light-hearted Japanese import, quickly became one of the most viral children’s crazes in the 1990’s fueling a whirlwind of popularity that still exists over 10 years later. What was once a conglomerate of 250 little critters and a kid’s outlet to channel his or her energy into becoming a Pokemon master, is now a series featuring dozens of games, surpassing 200 million copies sold, and reaching a total of 649 creatures on the roster. As a gamer who grew up during the Pokemon golden years, I have plenty of fond memories relating to Pikachu, Team Rocket, and the Elite Four. Animal rights organization PETA does not share the same admiration however.
In an attempt to dissuade players from their loyalty to the series, the organization created a Flash game called PETA’s Pokemon Black & Blue in which players aid Pikachu and friends in a quest to escape the tyranny of their trainers and establish freedom. The parody’s official description is as follows:
“For generations, Pokemon have suffered at the hands of their cruel trainers. Help PETA free Pikachu and his Pokemon friends as they struggle for Pokemon Liberation!”
To get a taste of Pokemon Black & Blue, here are just some of the encounters to expect. Players will be required to escape their deranged master who happens to be holding a bloody baseball bat and bottle of alcohol, they will run into a remorseful Nurse Joy who wants to free the Pokemon from oppression, and Professor Juniper (a parody to Professor Oak) makes an appearance with a box-cutter and syringe in hand to stop Pikachu and the other rebellious Pokemon.
“The amount of time that Pokémon spend stuffed in pokéballs is akin to how elephants are chained up in train carts, waiting to be let out to “perform” in circuses. But the difference between real life and this fictional world full of organized animal fighting is that Pokémon games paint rosy pictures of things that are actually horrible.” – PETA
Though only portrayed as a game, PETA is obviously making a clear stance with its parody. The fear that children copy and replicate what they see is an argument that reaches far beyond video games and into other forms of media such as movies, television, music, and internet. If a child watches an R-rated film will he or she go on a killing rampage when they grow up? Probably not. If someone plays Pokemon will they develop an insatiable urge to abuse animals? I very much doubt it.
In all my years playing Pokemon, I’ve never had the sudden urge to shove my cat in a poke-ball like box or attempt to catch a wild squirrel in my backyard. While the subject matter of catching, training, and battling an animal could be looked down upon, the reality is, Pokemon are not real. Shouldn’t PETA be focusing on the real-life animals in need?
What is your opinion on PETA’s Pokemon bashing? Do you support their cause or think that they have taken it a little too far? To play the game for yourself, check out the following link: