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On the Pokemon Controversy and "Being a Fan"

Discussion in 'Media' started by Jawahib, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. Jawahib

    Both Exotic and Professor
    Busoshoku Haki YouTube Team
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    Nov 16, 2015
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    Soooo we may or may not all have heard about the new Pokemon games cutting out a decent chunk of the old Pokedex in the new Sword and Shield games: namely, that not all Pokemon from previous games will be available in Sword and Shield.

    This was not played out as an advantage in any way on Gamefreak's part, with Masuda explaining it was "a virtue of logistical challenges". Practically, given the level of detail for each Pokemon that appears in the game, it wasn't feasible to add all 800 of them in while maintaining a reasonable deadline, so they opted to cut a huge chunk of them out and keep it exclusive to the Pokemon that natively appear in the new Galar region (which include some old Pokemon, though one source seems to think they might include all the 151 Pokemon that appeared in the Let's Go series).

    This decision proceeded to split the community quite strongly, which you can see for yourself by looking at just about any comment thread on any recent post on the Pokemon Facebook page.

    The split could be characterised as being between people who are vocally upset with the decision, and people who are annoyed at those upset people. I strongly distinguish the latter from people who support the decision, because it doesn't seem like there are any of those; especially given that Masuda hasn't tried to put a positive spin on it anyway. Emotions are burning strongly on both sides and I think it's fair to say it's an extremely divisive issue.

    Why, then, are people outraged with the decision? Well, I figure I'd quote a few comments that seem to capture the broadest spectrum I can (while keeping the number of quotes fairly low). For the sake of anonymity I will not be crediting the names of the people who wrote these messages, but you will be able to find them on the threads in the aforementioned Facebook page.
    Pokemon is not just a meta. Its a world we love and grew up in. Every pokemon has a fan. Cryoganal, stackatacka, bibarel, dhelmise, alomamola, even Garbador. We want are friends that we have learned the names of, our comrades, our friends, to journey with us in our new world. Ohana means family and family means Nobody gets left behind.
    Literally no excuse to have not programmed every Pokemon in Sword and Shield, except laziness. You have every single model at your disposal that can be upscaled and polished. All we ask is that we can transfer any Pokemon we want into the current games; this has been the series standard since Ruby and Sapphire. It is honestly insulting to see you make a move like this.
    I just don't know what to say... Rage and extreme sadness are hard to express when it literally shattered expectations...I worked hard to transfer all my Pokemon up from generation to generation. Way back when I was young i meticulously transferred my Pokemon and here I was excited for Pokemon home. I just want to keep the Pokemon I worked for. If you need to limit Pokemon in the game and restrict features as a result maybe you should stop making new Pokemon... Or maybe just take a little longer to release the game. Sure people would be upset at that thought but at least they would've done it to make the fans happy and showed they care about all of us.
    I am officially on strike with the pokemon company. I will not buy or support any more of their products until I hear some news that changes my mind. They REPLACED all mega evolutions and z moves in Sword and Sheild with this new Dynamax feature. I was fine with the addition of this feature, but to replace the previous megas and z moves is disrespectful. They are just as much vital to pokemon as the pokemon themselves. OH speaking of the pokemon themselves, you will not get them all. They literally will be making it impossible to own any pokemon not in the Galar dex. This destroys the cohesion of the world and the games. So I say to the Pokemon company, like the pokemon youve decided are not "good enough" and leave behind, so too do you leave behind this crushed fan.
    And on the other side, we find:
    I cannot believe this fandom. You complain about the series not being innovative and clamor for new stuff. They give you new stuff and you turn your back on the franchise and scream into the void about it. Do people just want X&Y/Sun&Moon all over again? Same mega evolutions and z-moves? Come on....

    I’d LOVE to have the national dex in this game. I’ve already accepted the fact it won’t be and I’m looking forward to this brand new adventure with all its new mechanics.
    They always make you wait to port Pokemon over. Quit complaining and enjoy the effort put into this new game.
    So sad to see this toxic reaction. Honestly, I was happy that they come out and gave us the news about this limit. They were transparent, you hardly see that now a days. Now, think on this, wouldn't a national dex be more suited for a pokemon game that has the ability to travel to all regions? Something that has been dreamed of for years? Because I can almost guarantee that yall would be crying over not being able to travel to the other regions if they included the national dex here.
    Y’all are really gullible to think they won’t introduce the ability to transfer Pokémon at a later date. They’ve done this like 2 other times, where y’all been
    The entitlement in these comments is hilarious to me. Does no one do a clean play through anymore? Or do we need all our max IVs/bred Pokémon instantly in the game? Jesus christ people.

    Aaaalrighty, so now you're acquainted with the controversy, it's time to turn off the news reporter (also if you think there's anything significant I missed pls let me know; News Reporter Jawa is still trying to get better).

    So why am I writing about this, and which side do I fall on? Well, the main reason I actually wrote this was to hate on the hate-haters, but I'll get to that in a second. Regarding the controversy itself, I agree that them taking the time to add all the Pokemon to the game would have been the best choice for them and the players. Masuda's justification to me (and to a lot of people who said they would rather the game be delayed), is a misjudged trade-off. People don't want the game in time, they want the game completed, and I think it's a shame that they don't (or at least didn't) agree. And why do I say "completed" in spite of the people who would reduce the National Dex to a "feature"?

    Pokemon, to myself and a huge number of fans, and I dare to extend that to every fan who is displeased with the controversy, is not just a string of unconnected releases designed to create a new experience each time. Pokemon is more akin to a living franchise; a growing franchise. Each release is intimately connected with the next in both experience and universe, and the bridge between each generation is the National Dex. Pokemon wasn't about moving on to the next thing, it was about the same thing, being carefully nurtured out of love for it, getting bigger and better as it grew. Each new game was about learning all the new things that existed in our beloved Pokemon universe. It was more than just love for Pokemon, it was about the world getting bigger. And it's clear the developers were aware of this given their constant references to previous (and sometimes future) games and regions - hell just about everyone seems to know Professor Oak. The universe was one of the most well-developed purely because people were always able to remain connected to all the events that came before in the timeline via their Pokemon. How many Pokemon have people cultivated that have participated in just about every Pokemon League that's been created?

    The game was designed so that the players would feel attached to their Pokemon - just because of the time and care that needed to go into developing them. This care is especially true when you think of the steps people took with EV/IV training. We could actually relate to the NPCs who'd talk about the tedium of training Pokemon - something that's a testament to how well the fantasy immersed the player. Hours upon hours went into developing rosters that people could be proud of for no other reason than love for the sport and its world. People want that kind of effort to count for something. People spend months hatching shiny Pokemon, getting IVs right, fiddling and fiddling because they both love the process but also because the fruits of their labour often resulted in a force to be reckoned with. And the fact that they could pick up that effort and export it to the next generation via the Pokedex was something that seemed to be respected by Gamefreak, and handled with quite a bit of care. Just about everyone in the process of soft-resetting for shiny Legendaries or perfect natures would have that niggling question in the back of their head: is this worth it? And we'd be reassured by virtue of the National Dex that it is worth it; that the incredible amount of time wouldn't be thrown out with the next generation of Pokemon, and so we'd persist.

    This is why the decision feels like such a slap in the face. Because we are now being told that our time and effort put into these games, on the faith - a faith that was constantly rewarded and carefully handled - that Gamefreak wouldn't make it all redundant, is being made redundant. But in a very half-baked way, and for a very weak reason. The announcement doesn't seem to be mindful of all these things. They seem to think, in spite of what just about every Pokemon addict has felt and has communicated over the years, that we would rather uproot most of the living plant in favour of planting just few of the leaves, in the interest of growing said leaves, rather than take more time to maintain the plant and have it grow a bit slower. It's like being asked to kill your parents and all your uncles and aunts just so you can have a child of your own. This is something that has seemingly been incredibly misunderstood by Gamefreak and it's a bit confusing as to why. The half-baked way it's being done - saying that only some will be able to move (if they already exist in the Galar region)- just reinforces how out-of-touch they seem to be with the strongest part of their fanbase. It's actively showing that what once seemed to be respected on their part is something that just needs minimal effort to tick the box.

    And to those that say "You still have those games; no one is taking them from you, so why are you complaining?"; you have missed the point. A huge part of the thrill of playing those games, of experiencing those things, is because they were part of the living Pokemon franchise. That all the training we did was part of a living universe that we were a part of. That this universe was getting bigger via DLC and new releases, and that everything we did in whichever game we happened to be in was somehow contributing to it. We would find a wild Larvitar, spend all the time breeding to get the right nature and IVs, then EV train it, level it up, evolve it into a Tyranitar, all under the belief that it would count. That this investment would pay off into a force to be reckoned with the wider Pokemon universe. But now, assuming they commit to this severance, it's near impossible to do the same thing with the same level of care, because there will be the knowledge that "this is a waste of time" always niggling in the back of our heads, taking the wind out of our sails and killing our investment. Why bother EV training anymore? The Pokemon League isn't that hard to beat, and the post-game content (Battle-Tree, Battle Frontier etc) feels quite empty when the rewards for doing well just pile up into items that make you stronger without much of a sense of overall progression - a progression that was once provided by the promise of the next game.

    "But it's always a waste of time! It's video games!"
    Perhaps, and maybe we knew that on some level, but the main thing that this argument misses is that the living Pokemon universe made it extremely easy to ignore this idea. Without a National Dex anymore, the time-wasting is brought to the forefront. We could get to the end of the story, beat the Pokemon League and maybe even a few other things, but why bother taking the time to train anymore? It's a dead universe; it doesn't matter, and nothing in the game actually requires you to put that much work into it.

    While I love training Pokemon from scratch enough to "get over it", and will probably buy the game, I wholeheartedly empathise with and support people who refuse to (on both counts). I do not blame people for getting immersed into a franchise that is designed to immerse; for falling in love with something so easily lovable. While I don't feel the need to compulsively migrate all my old Pokemon to the newest gen every time, I absolutely understand people that do. For me, it was more about the universe being alive than it was about me taking full advantage of that, and the ability to move Pokemon around freely in that universe was a huge factor in creating this life, which is why I've talked so much about it.

    On the flip side: I do not hate Gamefreak for this choice. I am extremely glad that they did not try to spin it as a positive, and transparently portrayed it as a compromise. I still think it was a misstep on their part to assume we'd rather get the game sooner than take the time to animate all the Pokemon for the National Dex, and hope that they at least take this feedback on board towards the future. It's something I think they should have learnt from Let's Go, that while I personally loved, couldn't keep me going for more than about 3 months. I haven't touched that game in ages and haven't felt the need to. The fact that this same or a similar experience has been echoed just about everywhere on the internet should have told them that Pokemon cannot afford to pick style over substance, even if the style in the Let's Go games was pretty much universally beloved by the fanbase (save the catching wild Pokemon thing, which had some controversy).

    Fancy graphics, good stories, solid multiplayer, and fan-beloved features cannot keep a player base going for a long time. It is the living universe that people have fallen in love with, and what embodies the success of the Pokemon franchise. You don't need to look much further than WoW, SWTOR, EVE Online - hell even Runescape - to understand the power that a living universe has to keep people playing, and you meddle with that at your own risk.

    Now, that's only my take on that half of the controversy. The primary motivator for this thread was actually to comment on the other side of the aisle, and the ideas being slung around. And if this was an isolated incident, this thread would probably be done already, but recent years have seen similar responses from people regarding Star Wars, the MCU Game of Thrones and Halo to name the strongest offenders, with just about every other franchise dragged through the mud at some stage this last decade.
    Ultimately the message is: if you don't like a decision [for whatever reason], it is your fault and you are not a true fan of that franchise.

    In the case of Pokemon: you are too entitled, bratty, whiny or unappreciative enough to be satisfied. This looks like a great game and you can't shut up about a single feature.

    In the case of Star Wars: you just hate Disney, were looking for excuses to hate the movies, and can't understand the great ideas behind them (and something political usually). You had your expectations subverted and can't stand that.

    In the case of GoT: This series has always been about surprising the audience, and you're just whining because you didn't like this surprise (probably also something political).

    The list goes on, but there's an extremely worrying trend: people who decide how other people should react to media when the reaction is negative. People who dismiss valid criticisms and viewpoints because they can't see past their own and, more significantly, don't want to. You enjoyed it at the time and can't understand why people are whinging so much about something you thought was pretty clever, so you ignore their criticisms, try to correct them and show them your "superior" interpretation, and berate them when they don't agree. I don't even know if I am depicting this perspective correctly because it's just so alien to me and doesn't seem based on any principle I can quite put my finger on.

    I'm happy to hear any opinion about a movie/TV show/game, but this attitude damages the conversation. This attitude stands against every fundamental concept that I have utilised since becoming an internet nerd in 2014: that there is information that can distinguish strong ideas and weak ideas, strong writing choices and weak ones, effective game mechanics and poor ones. I have spent most of my time here being corrected of opinions that were wrong due to faulty or incomplete information. Some of my own theories have been absolutely annihilated over the course of time, and that's perfectly fine. That's good. That's me growing.
    But this attempt to shut people up who disagree - to brand everything as good or don't talk about it - sucks. It discourages people from actually caring about the media they consume for fear of it turning sour and them being on the receiving end of this criticism. Worse, it actually attempts to belittle people who care about the media they're consuming and apply any kind of standard to it.

    So to those people who are belittling the Pokemon fans who are sad, or upset that they've lost their National Pokedex. Who say stuff like "This fanbase is so toxic" or "Why don't you appreciate the work the developers put into this game instead of whinging and whining?", I can easily reverse the toxicity claim and say you're the toxic ones for bringing this attitude to the conversation, and accuse you of whinging and whining about those fans. To those people who accuse these disenfranchised fans of "entitlement", I can only ask: do you think that a franchise is entitled to undying loyalty no matter how bad their decisions may be or the quality of the product that they put out is?
    Because as I read this discourse the only toxic contributors I see are the ones attempting to mock and belittle and invalidate people's feelings. I see an outpouring of genuine emotion on one side that is directly tied to their investment in the franchise, with extremely unsavoury motivations from the other side that is directly tied to their indifference in what their targets are saying.

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