December 2, 2020

Happy 15th Birthday, Pokemon!

By Brittany Ruess & Lorena Macias

Webster University Video Game Club members

Michael Henry (left), Video Game Club events planner, plays “Pokemon Stadium” with another VGC member at the club’s celebration of Pokemon’s 15th birthday on Saturday, Oct. 8. Henry said the event was a collaboration between him and the other VGC officers. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS

Video game club members tapped away on their controllers as they played various Pokemon games. Their attention was quickly averted, though, when “Pokemon: The First Movie” started to play — a bit of nostalgia bringing the gamers back to their childhoods.

Denise Eaton, freshman, still remembers watching the film in theaters.

“I slept over at my friend’s house and then drove an hour in the morning to see Pokemon the next day,” said Eaton.

The Video Game Club (VGC) celebrated Pokemon’s 15th birthday on Oct. 8 in the Library Conference Room. Together, gamers played “Pokemon Snap,” “Pokemon Stadium 1,” “Pokemon Stadium 2,” and “Pokemon Battle Revolution.” While playing, gamers would discuss the movie. Many discussed the strengths and capabilities of various Pokemon while others tried to help settle the debates.

During the film, Michael Henry, VGC events planner, commented Mewtwo was evil because he uses his psychic powers to control others. This was put up to debate.

“He’s misunderstood and confused about the world,” said Andy Noelker, VGC president.

These debates were friendly, but at times, grew a bit serious.

“Pokemon brings out my rage like nothing else,” said Meredith Bossard, vice-president.

Bossard also commented on “Pokemon Snap,” a game in which the gamers snap photos of Pokemon. Professor Oak, a character who researches Pokemon in the TV series, judges the photos in the game.

In the game, Professor Oak’s favorite photo of Bossard’s was one of a Magikarp in the center of the frame — a bad judgement call, she said, based on photography’s rule of thirds.

As a child, Henry played “Pokemon Stadium” on his Nintendo 64, watched the anime series and played with the trading cards. The Pokemon series was one of the first anime shows he watched as a child, so Pokemon holds a special place in his heart.

He remembers asking for the cards persistently. He was lucky enough once to buy a holographic Victreebel card in a booster pack. Later, he traded the card and upgraded to a holographic Mewtwo, which he still owns. Henry’s trading cards are still organized in a binder at his house.

He never collected all 150 Pokemon, a goal that many other Pokemon lovers share but not many reach. The desire to “Catch ‘em all” is why, Henry said, he believes the game has lasted so long.

“Everyone wanted to be the best, like in the theme song,” Henry said. “Everyone wants to go the extra step.”

Noelkler and Bossard founded VGC in 2009 along with 2011 graduates Ian Barczewski and Andy Kohnen.

The VGC officers collaborated on the Pokemon event after Bossard told the group Pokemon’s 15th birthday was coming up.

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