Pokémons came to Britain from Japan where they had been the craze since 1995. There are indications that they are influenced by Japanese ‘spirituality’, which could open lives to wrong influences. As far as the West is concerned Pokémons started life as a video game produced by Nintendo. Pokémons – short for Pocket Monsters – are ‘cuddly’ monsters that have the ability to kill each other.
It is probably not the video game that has caused the most problem, but one of the merchandise spin-offs – collectable cards. The whole ’empire’ however is big business with not only the video game and collectable cards but cartoon shows, a full-length film and toys. All this has an estimated value of between £4 and 5 billion so far.
On the web site of the distributors there used to be a section entitled Pokémon for Parents (there is still a part for the frequently asked questions) where they tried to explain the game to any concerned parents. It began,
“The world of Pokémon is a world much like our own but filled with fantastic creatures called Pokémon. Certain special people in this world decide to become Pokémon trainers. Trainers capture wild Pokémon and train them to do battle with other Pokémon. The world of Pokémon began as an adventure game for the Game Boy (a hand-held electronic game player). In the adventure game, a child plays the part of a Pokémon trainer wandering through the world, collecting and training Pokémon. Then came the Pokémon trading card game (more on that later), and then the Pokémon television show. The Game Boy, the card game, and the TV show all became very popular in Japan. In 1998, they came to the United States, and things just haven’t been the same for kids (and their parents) since! There are 150 different kinds of Pokémon, and it’s a trainer’s job to catch as many as possible and to train them for battle. Each different Pokémon has different powers and abilities. To train Pokémon well takes courage, perseverance, and kindness. As a trainer’s Pokémon grow, they will become stronger, learn new attacks, and will sometimes even evolve into new and different Pokémon!”
Through involvement with the cartoon or the cards, young children will be taught how to train the monsters to fight and kill. It may only be ‘role-play’ but as we have often said before, it is very difficult sometimes, in a child’s mind, to know where ‘make-believe’ ends and role-play takes over. As we have also stated role-play in itself is not wrong but it is the content of the role-play that we are concerned about.
The Pokémon collectable cards are made and distributed in the USA by a company called “Wizards of the Coast.” This same company have been responsible for other occult games including all the “Dungeons and Dragons” materials. It would appear to the outside observer that Pokémons are a slightly watered down version of some of these adult occult fantasies, designed to appeal to younger children.
The cards have undoubtedly caused the most problem and are the reason for many enquiries we receive. Many schools have had to ban such ‘toys’ from the playground because of the fights, ill feeling and stealing that has resulted.
The official Pokémon web site explains in its Rules section,
“Welcome to the world of Pokémon, a special place where people just like you train to become the number-one Pokémon Master in the world! But what is a Pokémon, you ask? “Pokémon are incredible creatures that share the world with humans,” says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monsters. “There are currently 150 documented species of Pokémon.” And your incredible task is to capture, train, and fight with all of them! It’s not easy, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll know exactly which Pokémon to choose for a battle. On your way to the top, you’ll perfect your skills by using your Pokémon to fight against other Pokémon trainers. Each Pokémon has its own special fighting abilities. Though they come in many shapes and sizes, even the smallest Pokémon can launch a fierce attack. Some Pokémon grow, or evolve, into even more powerful creatures. But don’t worry-even your toughest Pokémon will be loyal to you! Carry your Pokémon with you, and you’re ready for anything! You’ve got the power in your hands, so use it!”
For children, that could be very dangerous advice, as it borders on encouraging them to believe that the ‘magic charms’ of the Pokémon is sufficient for them too.
On the same site in the Glossary section we read,
“Basic Energy card: A … Psychic”
“Pokémon Power: The special abilities some Pokémon have. These are written in the same place attacks are, but they always have the words “Pokémon Power” in front of them so that you can tell they’re not attacks.”
Some will say that it is doubtful whether the involvement in such practices will cause ‘demonisation’ in a child. That may be so, but as evangelical Christians we are warned beyond that. It is not just the fact of whether we can be ‘possessed’ by some foreign spiritual power, but whether our Christian lifestyle could be compromised by spending time involved with such a practice. Indeed, from our viewpoint, we would conclude from the information above that that there are several reasons why we should not allow our children to be involved in this game.
Magical Powers – the cards do definitely talk about psychic abilities and special powers. There would therefore be a danger of opening a child’s mind or spirit to curiosity about wrong and dangerous supernatural powers.
Win by Destroying others – the ‘spirit’ of the game is the exact opposite of the Spirit of Christ. Here we seek to destroy each other. Friends become enemies and enemies are to be destroyed. There is no consideration for the other person simply that ‘I’ want to be the best master there is. In other words it is ‘self’ of the worse kind that is uppermost.
All consuming – this is not a game of ‘Monopoly,’ which may end in tears but is over when it’s over. There is no end to this game, you must always do better. This becomes all consuming and everything else must take second place.
True if we just have a Pokémon toy in the bedroom it will probably do no harm but once that leads to regular viewing of the cartoon show another problem results,
Fear – this a classic result in children and fear is not an inheritance that evangelical Christians believe comes from God.
Even the secular Newsweek magazine wrote,
“Pokémon is still a monster… like many monsters it is creating a measure of fear and panic in its wake.”
A supporter of Reachout Trust related how his son would not go downstairs by himself on Saturday mornings because of the fear created by the cartoon.
If our lives become dominated by getting ‘all the cards’ we can become,
Aggressive, secretive and even steal – all of which are not characteristics that are recognised as Christian.
There seems to be little doubt that any half serious involvement with Pokémons leads away from the encouragement of Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
However, it is not only Christians that are concerned and I thought I would close with a quote that was emailed to me, taken from a secular newspaper:
“If toys are really a way of learning life skills, why should we teach our children to enjoy training creatures to kill. Cock fighting and bear baiting were made illegal years ago. But people will say, “It’s just a game, nobody gets hurt, its just imagination.” Tell that to the families that have suffered violence induced by film images or pornography. As parents and grandparents we have a responsibility to protect our children against the evil they cannot see even if it is dressed up as an angel of light.”