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The strategic game of Pokemon - it's not just for young kids

No matter what age you are, unless you have been living in a cave, you have surely heard of the old sensation still sweeping the nation -- Pokemon. With the advent of Heart Gold and Soul Silver, this gaming phenomenon has been popular with game players of all ages for more than a decade.

However, the game has grown to much more than a simple collection game for young children. What was once a child's dream to "catch 'em all" has grown to become what is quite possibly the most advanced strategy game since chess. Many parallels can even be drawn between the two. As technology has advanced, the game has grown to new heights.

The game of Pokemon is a game with endless possibilities. To play competitively, it requires a great deal of knowledge and quick-thinking. Unlike chess, where the pieces are the same for every match, Pokemon has 493 possible "pieces," and each can dramatically alter the face of the match.

The competitive Pokemon community has grown exponentially with the advent of Nintendo DS WiFi battles. The trick to the game is being able to recognize patterns in your opponent, and knowing what you want to do, just like chess.

Pokemon teaches critical thinking. While some may dismiss video games as a pointless pastime, there are some that teach life lessons. One may be caught off-guard by an opponent's move, but being able to respond to it in the game applies to most life situations. Many high school and college students have picked up the Pokemon game. Strategies are nearly endless in Pokemon. This process of thinking ahead can be applied to almost any situation in real life. Knowing one's surroundings and being able to analyze them and make the best of them is a skill that Pokemon can teach, and analyzing a metagame of a strategy-based game is one of the best ways to learn just this.

The Pokemon metagame is ever-changing, with new threats and styles of play becoming popular every day. This teaches players to be able to adapt. Players who stick with one full team for years will get destroyed by the masses of changing players and playing styles.

The game is also key to understanding human psychology. If played correctly, within the first four moves a player can tell whether the opponent is a conservative player or an aggressive player. This allows the player to tailor his or her moves to how the opponent will play. Think a combination of chess and poker, and you get Pokemon. The bluffs and trickery of poker and the strategy of chess blend together in the phenomenon that is the Pokemon competitive battling community.

The perception of Pokemon is that it is a game built solely for young children, but does it seem like such an immature game, with all of these twists and turns?

I didn't think so.

Joshu Creel is a freshman at Park School.

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