I Let My Pokémon Down

by Dave Lee

Pokémon is the shit on many different levels.

First of all, I don’t consider myself a true gamer in the sense that I’m looking for more of an experience and less of a challenge. Also, I don’t have time to be consumed by a game for that long of a time. I’m trying to get that run-through action similar to when you set aside those weekends to binge-watch all of Breaking Bad. Yeah, there’s post-game content, online play, and it’s definitely heads out there on a serious quest for shiny pokémon (#veryrare). But the RPG format provides that one and done feeling.

Also, the game is marketed towards a younger audience. You know what that means to me? I’m not piling on more stress on top of the stress I already face as a dude in his late 20s, still trying to find his way in the world. Just some good ol’ fashioned fun that’s easily accessible, especially for dudes who haven’t been keeping up with the new generation consoles and getting their subscriptions of Gamepro, which doesn’t even exist anymore.

And damn, I’m going to go ahead and admit it, the pokémon are cute as fuck. Sometimes you need that in your life. And even if you don’t, they’re up to 718 pokémon at this point. So, a lot of them be coming out all fucked up and it’s hilarious. At some point, somebody at GameFreak was like ay, forget basing them off animals, here’s one that’s a set of keys, oh, here’s an ice cream cone, LULZ, let’s make this one a laundry machine (those are all real, by the way).

So why can’t I just accept that I fux with Pokémon heavy?

Why I gotta hide that shit in the folds of my bag when I’m on the go? Have you guys been reading these last few paragraphs? I put a little extra douchebro and some unnecessary expletives into the prose, just to let ya’ll know I’m still down. I AM THO.

Spoiler Alert: So I just finished playing Pokémon Y, the latest installment in the almost 20-year old series and I felt like the ending was definitely calling me out. At the end of the parade, Professor Sycamore starts talkin’ about “the man who loved pokémon with all his heart.” And I realized I haven’t been loving the pokémon with all my heart.

In fact, here are a few ways I’ve been overcompensating for being a grown ass man who plays Pokémon by disrespecting the little homies who was by my side throughout the whole adventure.



When you welcome a pet into your family, sometimes you don’t name them right away. You’re like, what is this little puppy’s character like? Then one day, you see him chewing on a leaf so you’re like “aww, we’ll call him caterpillar.” That’s like a wonderful story. But nah, I went ahead and just put these aggressive ass names on my guys because I thought it would be funny and also, again, overcompensating for being a grown ass man who plays Pokémon. That’s not their fault!


Think about it, in-game. We’re walking through tall grass and then a weak ass pidgey pops up. We obviously overpower this bird, but he’s snickering with weedle and fletchling about how funny it is when dudes try way too hard to show how tough they are by having names such as COMEATMEBRO.

Won the battle but we ain’t win it, though. MY BAD.

Neglect/No Love

So in the new generation, along with the 3D environments and technology, there’s a feature where you can have one on one time with your pokémon. Let me paint this picture for you. You enter the room and the pokémon is just minding its own business until it notices you. When it does? Lights up, all visibly happy to see you. If that’s what having kids is like, bruh… Anyway, from there, you can actually rub the screen where its head or belly is until little hearts pop up to show its appreciation for the affection you’ve shown. You also play mini games where you win little pink or tangerine-colored treats to feed your pokémon.

If you don’t feel any type of way at this point, they even let you talk to it. Go ahead, coo into the little built-in microphone.

But yo, it’s all part of the game. It’s something you do to progress the game, the same way you would dodge bullets in a shooter or jump from one ledge to another in a Mario adventure. And I couldn’t do it. Matter of fact, I made it a point to have that affection meter never go past one heart. And for that, I’m sorry.

Evolution/Mega Evolution

With all that being said, at least a small part of you is playing Pokémon for the cute factor. At least a little bit. I think the part of me that was aware of the fact was on a mission to sabotage it.

I still remember first capturing Pancham. That’s a fighting type pokémon based off a baby panda. Yeah. But even better than what you’re probably imagining. He was adorable but he also had this confident I-can-do-it grin that reminds you of you before all the failures in your life caused the corners of your mouth to droop. Plus, he was always chewing on this tiny leaf like it was a toothpick. Then I trained the shit out of him so he could evolve into Pangoro.

Look at that motherfucker. So unnecessary.

Then there’s the new feature called Mega Evolutions, where you tap a button and they basically rage out on some super saiyan shit, but it’s like their features become nightmarish…

I remember that one time I got arrested as a youth. It was something stupid, but I won’t forget the look on my mom’s face. She wasn’t even mad; she looked more confused like she was searching in my face to find her baby boy. Now I know exactly how she felt.


I used the walkthrough strategy guide. Like I said, I’m not a true gamer, and I’m here for the experience more than the challenge. But imagine, if you was riding around with me looking for items or trying to navigate through these murky caves and puzzle-laden gyms.

You’re like, hey, why don’t we try this way? And I’m like, nah, it’s not there. I already know where we have to go, come on, let’s get out of here, I’m trying to finish this.

I bet that’s how some of y’all were raised. Your dads didn’t really want to spend time with you and treated that shit like a chore and you could feel it. Word, I’m Korean, I know how you feel. But that doesn’t mean I have to put my pokémon family through the same things I went through. That’s just a vicious cycle. Fuck!


The storyline had me laughing out loud. The thing is about genocide, yo! Genocide ain’t funny, but I’m out here with literally millions of other kids all over the world on a handheld gaming device with 3D features and the subject is mass murder. But that’s when everybody on my team got real quiet. I just wanted to play a game on my off time but I failed to realize this shit was real, at least to them.


Anyway, I’m not really in the mood to start over. But on the next addition in the series, I’m on it. Heart meter through the roof. More neutral names like Michael so they could kind of establish their own identity through their actions. All kawaii everything. And no more walkthroughs, I’m talking to everybody and checking under every pebble for items on every route. Might even check the walkthrough just to go down the wrong path on purpose just to spend more quality time. And if I don’t do all that, I’ll do it on the next one because that right there sounds mad time-consuming.

If you’re going to play Pokémon, play that shit. Play. That. Shit. Know why there’s a bunch of dudes out there fanboying out for Adventure Time, KPOP, and My Little Pony? Because everybody our age is too cool for shit and jaded about life. Pick some colorful ass shit that isn’t supposed to be for you and you rep that shit without any of the irony. Mad fun. Shout out to STAY MAD aka Pikachu, I’ll change your name in Camphrier town, don’t you worry.

The views expressed on this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Gumship. We do not condone the usage of petting Pokémon through a screen.

Let us know in the comments below if you play Pokémon and your level of shame or pride. Hit up @rekstizzy directly on Twitter and on Instagram.

Dave Lee founded Gumship in 2012 to document the Asian American experience through culture, lifestyle, and entertainment. When he’s not blogging, he creates music as the rapper Rekstizzy. Hobbies include ramen, fried chicken, and pizza. If he could eat all three at the same time, the joy in his heart would cause him to levitate off the floor in a spiral motion.

3 thoughts on “I Let My Pokémon Down

  1. I’ve never played Pokemon because I’ve never owned a handheld or a console, but I know a bunch of 20- and 30-something guys and some folks in their 50s who are still on it hardcore. Play what makes you happy and own it!

  2. This was great, I’m 24 now and LOVE playing Pokemon. It’s amazing to me how two people can play the same exact game, but end with two completely different parties. Absolutely love the concept. Great piece.

  3. Pokemon was the first traditional RPG I liked where you actually pick the attacks and wait and see what happens next. Later on, I liked Earthbound, but that’s my limit on those kinds of RPGs. I totally agree with you–I hate time-consuming games. Some are just too life-like (GTA 5, BioShock, RAGE to name a few) that it leaves me thinking, “I came here to get away from reality, not get thrown into another world with just as much drama and work.”

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