Pokémon, a game made in the mid 90’s, was about the capture and training of creatures called Pokémon. The game was set in an alternate reality where you play a trainer who strives to be the best trainer. The main way to interact with the environment is through battling with your Pokémon. The trainer is very weak, in fact if all their Pokémon are knocked out the trainer passes out as well, and loses half of his money for some reason.
Huizinga’s ideas of play are supported by this game: the “magic circle” (Huizinga, 103), “pretending” (Huizinga, 103), and “play being differed or suspended” are traits of the game. “The magic circle”(Huizinga, 113) is marked off in the small parameters of the Game Boy’s screen but the world contained with in that area is much larger then that. The game can also be saved and picked up later or even paused if it’s only for a short time. Last as an RPG this game is a great example of “pretending.” You are playing as another person a role that can not be violated as long as the player stays with in the confines of the game.
Caillois’ ideas of Agon and Mimicry describe the features of this game as well. In this game you play as another person who lives in a world entirely different then your own. This feature follows Caillios’ idea “Make-believe: accompanied by a special awareness of a second reality.”(Caillios, 128) Also, Caillos’ idea of separate laws with in the game world is upheld in the rule that most interactions with other people and creatures must be carried through with the Pokémon the trainer has. By using these Pokémon to fight and compete, the game supports Caillios’ idea of Agon or competitive games. Constantly through out the game the trainer is challenged to matches and will challenge the leaders to fight for there title or badges.
Suits’ arguments on how a game can be defined by having goals and the rules used to achieve those goals can also be supported by this game. This game has many rules that must be followed and much like Suits’ “golf club” (Suits, 174) example. Often less efficient means must be followed to achieve the goal. For instance if I wanted to win very easily I could just capture a single Pokémon and attack a trainer and steal there Pokémon afterwards, but even the villains in the game follow the rule of Pokémon fighting Pokémon to achieve their goal. Another rule that every one follows that is less then the optimal method is that no trainer has more then six Pokémon at any given time. It would be an obvious advantage for a trainer to have twenty Pokémon in a line up rather then only six. Suits’ other idea of having multiple goals such as to participate, to win, or just to finish (Suits, 186) is also supported by the game. As a player there are multiple ways to play and win. For instance you can play just to play: to treat the game as a pet simulator and raise Pokémon. You can also play to win, to beat the Elite Four. Last you can play to finish. This one would be dependent on what it means to finish for the player which could be any thing from beating every trainer in game to collecting all the types of Pokémon.
Huizinga, J. (1938). Nature and significance of play as a cultural phenomenon. The Game Design Reader, 96-119.
Caillois, R. (1958). The definition of play and the classification of games. The Game Design Reader, 122-155.
Suits, B. (1978). Construction of a Definition. The Game Design Reader, 173-191.