Me playing the latest generation of Pokemon was a foregone conclusion, yes? Don’t read on if you’re seriously averse to spoilers – it’s not plot-related, but it is in there.
“Hello there! Welcome to the world of Pokémon! My name is Oak! People call me the Pokémon Prof! This world is inhabited by creatures called Pokémon! …Your very own Pokémon legend is about to unfold! A world of dreams and adventures with Pokémon awaits! Let’s go!”
Long time readers will know that Pokemon is really important to me – it was my first real fandom, and I went hard. My first screen name was Oak, and my first fanfic ever was a POGMAP – “Professor Oak Gave Me a Pokemon” – sort of a fandom-specific Mary Sue. Like most things that affect the trajectory of your life so deeply, there’s always been a corner of my heart with “Pokemon” written on it, and as eleven-year-old me’s first contact with that world, Professor Oak had taken up permanent residence.
And there’s this part in Sun/Moon where… and this is where you’ll wanna skip ahead if you’re not there yet… you see a very familiar face: Samson Oak. HE’S NOT THE SAME GUY, I found out later, but he looks the same? So, to me, Professor Oak was looking back at me, twenty years later. After everything that has happened in my life since the first time I picked up Pokemon Blue and read those words, unlocking the door to the rest of my life… I actually choked up, the wave of emotion was so strong.
A cheesy as it sounds, for a single moment, it touched the part of me that’s always been a Pokemon trainer. I just wanted him to know that I was doing well, that I was happy, that I was still working on my Pokedex, that I had a daughter who loves Pokemon too, and I couldn’t wait for him to meet her and give her a Pokemon too.
And I realize this is all weird and irrational! But for a video game to be able to evoke these emotions, that’s the whole point of playing them at all! As an adult, you think you’ve got a handle on most anything a video game can throw at you, but it got through my armor… and I was just a kid enjoying Pokemon again. It was incredible. 🙂