When I was a kid, I wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was. To catch them was my real test; to train them was my cause. For those who haven’t the slightest idea what I’m talking about, allow me to direct you to what is estimated to be the highest-grossing media franchise of all time: Pokémon.
Yes, I was one of those kids—a card-carrying (literally, I collected the trading cards) Pokémon obsessive freak. In my defense, though, I was definitely not alone. Pokémon was a staple for a ridiculous number of kids growing up in the late nineties/early aughts. I still vividly remember my first exposure to what could only be described as a global phenomenon.
It was Thanksgiving 1998, and I was six years old. One of my cousins had brought his neon green Game Boy Color with him to our house. I spent the majority of the evening watching over his shoulder as he played this incredibly cool game in which his character travelled around in search of unique creatures with amazing powers that he could collect, train, and battle. That game was Pokémon Red. Shortly before he had to go home, he let me give the game a try—which, in hindsight, was an unbelievably generous move for a pre-teen boy. Within moments of playing, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted—I needed—this game more than anything.
Fast forward to Christmas that same year. I had pestered my parents incessantly for a month to please, please, please get me a Game Boy and the Pokémon game. My heart raced as I opened each gift, wondering if this would be the one. Finally, when all the other presents were revealed, my folks brought out one final package. My eyes grew to the size of Poké Balls and a huge grin split my face because I just knew. Sure enough, as I tore through the wrapping paper, the most beautiful Pokémon-themed Game Boy Color, complete with a copy of the new Pokémon Yellow Version, rested in my hands. My own Pokémon journey had begun.
Over the years, my love of Pokémon grew exponentially. As I mentioned above, I collected the trading cards and was even nerdy enough (surprise surprise) to play the Trading Card Game now and then. I watched the Pokémon anime series on TV, read novelizations of the show’s episodes, got every new version of the game as they were released, kept a notebook in which I’d draw existing or create new Pokémon, and once even coerced my Dad into winning me a knock-off Pikachu stuffed animal at the fair. My obsessive personality undoubtedly played a role in all of this, but I was all in.
As I’ve gotten older, and my interests have shifted to other franchises or topics—no less fanatically; just ask my wife about my compulsive love of all things Marvel—my die-hard love for Pokémon certainly waned. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve maintained a fondness in my heart for the little creatures and I’ve vaguely kept up with where the franchise is at out of pure nostalgia, but I’m definitely not the obsessive freak I once was—there are over 900 of them now with more on the way, after all.
“Okay, Tyler’s a big nerd. I already knew that. Old news. Why am I reading this?”
Apologies, let me get to the point.
Recently, one of our daughter’s best friends discovered Pokémon for the first time and, by association, so has our daughter. I honestly didn’t think it would be something that would capture her attention—she’s tends to be more into the Disney princesses—so I was surprised when she started telling me how much she enjoyed pretending to be Pikachu or Charmander when she played with her friend. Because she’s showing a growing interest in it, she and I started occasionally watching the original anime on Netflix for some special father-daughter bonding. It has been so fun not only to remember why I had so much fun engaging with the Pokémon franchise as a kid, but to watch her experience it all for the first time and enjoy it too!
And that’s my long, drawn-out way of expressing—yet again—why I love stories so much. Here is something that was incredibly meaningful to me as a kid that I now get to share with my daughter who’s at the exact same age I was when it first captured my imagination. Because of my history with it and her genuine excitement about it, we have a brand-new connection that didn’t previously exist. The Pokémon story may be a bit Farfetch’d and silly, not to mention contentious within certain circles, but it’s one that my daughter and I both enjoy and have fun with, and because of that it draws us closer together.
That is the power of good storytelling: connection! When stories spark something and are shared between individuals, we recognize how similar we are, rather than focusing so much on the things that divide us. That’s why I absolutely love stories and being a storyteller. That’s why it’s my greatest honor and privilege as a voiceover artist to lend my voice to others, helping them tell the stories that matter to them.
And so, without further ado: Until next time, friends, keep telling stories. They’re powerful!
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller