The Angry Gamer 05.27.04 – Sociology And Science In The World Of Pokemon

I once wrote an article for my website about the sociopolitics of Fraggle Rock. Today, I’m going to do something similar here, examining both the society and the technology within the world of Pokémon. (Note: I won’t be discussing how the Pokémon craze affected the real world, mind you. This will be strictly limited to the confines of the Pokémon games themselves.)

Pokémon (or “pocket monsters”) are various creatures that inhabit the world, much like cats or dogs. There’s hundreds of species, and they’re found all over the place, in various natural habitats, like forests, caves, deserts, oceans, and so on. And, like the aforementioned pets, many people often capture Pokémon and raise them. Known as trainers, these people keep Pokémon around as pets, but most also use them for battling. Yes, it’s quite a sadistic culture; Pokémon are torn away from their homes in the wild, and forced to compete in gladiatorial-style combat until they drop. It’s a glorified rock-paper-scissors battle, where hapless creatures are often stomped on by others much more powerful than them. If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, then you know what I’m talking about. It should be noted that Pokémon don’t actually die in these battles; they just “faint.” So at least it’s not completely horrendous. Still, you’d think whatever passes for PETA in the world of Pokémon (PETP, perhaps?) would still raise a stink. Although Pokémon don’t attack humans by nature, you’d think eventually they’d get pissed at this indentured servitude and rise up against their human masters. Lately, there’s been shadow Pokémon who do exactly that, and it can only get worse.

Then there’s the whole matter of technology. Even though the Pokémon series seems to take place in the present day, their level of science is quite far ahead of our own. Sure, people still get around on bikes and whatnot, but as far as the gadgets created to deal with Pokémon, the stuff scientists have thought up is rather staggering.

We’ll begin with the items every Pokémon trainer worth their salt has a boatload of: PokéBalls. These softball-sized spheres are what Pokémon are stored in when they’re not out and about. This wouldn’t seem remarkable, except for the fact that almost every single Pokémon is considerably larger than a PokéBall. Some of them are more than twice the size of humans, for crying out loud! Yet, they can still be crammed into a transport device that fits into your hand. So we’re talking some impressive miniaturization technology here, at the very least. Now, when you miniaturize an object by reducing the space between individual atoms, the object’s mass remains constant. So if you’ve got a Pokémon that has a mass of a few hundred kilograms, it’ll still be that hefty when stored in a PokéBall. The obvious solution? The PokéBalls also contain some type of null-gravity and inertial damping systems; null-gravity to make it possible to move them, and inertial damping to make it possible to stop them after being in motion. Finally, there’s a powerful forcefield in place, to prevent captured Pokémon from escaping. Since higher-level Pokémon are stronger, different kinds of PokéBalls are used to hold them, such as Great and Ultra Balls. There’s also modified PokéBalls created to capture specific Pokémon, like LureBalls for catching aquatic creatures. God only knows what the power source for these little wonders of technology is; likely some type of microfusion reactor, as that’s the only thing I can think of that could produce the enormous amounts of energy required for the miniaturization and storage process.

Then there’s the whole Pokémon computer storage system. Just like in the film Tron, living beings can be digitized and stored as data within a computer network. Even scarier is the fact that this process was discovered by only one person…the mysterious Bill. At any rate, since a trainer generally carries around six Pokémon at any given time, the rest need to be stored someplace. They obviously don’t want the little buggers ransacking their house, so into the network they go. What they actually do in there is their own business, of course. I bet they sit back and bitch about their trainers’ bad habits.

Finally, we’ve got the Pokémon Centers, which are both hangouts for trainers, access points for the computer storage system, and hospitals for injured Pokémon. The latter is what I’m going to focus on. Using nanotechnology and/or regenerative medical fields, these facilities can bring any and all Pokémon back to perfect health in a manner of seconds, free of charge. It makes you wonder what kind of healthcare system they have for people.

As is the norm with many video games, the world of Pokémon seems to be quite far ahead of our own, at least in the technological aspect. Sociologically, though, it’s sadly as backward and cruel as the world we live in, with an entire culture devoted to the torment of innocents for the pleasure of the elite. Too bad it won’t stop me from playing…