PETA and Pokemon – Does PETA Have a Point

Many people in the gaming world have probably seen the PETA Pokemon game.  For those who have not seen the game it can be found here: PETA Pokemon Game.  I played through the entire game if only because I was curious to see what they had to say.  A quick description: The game has you playing as Pokemon attempting to fight for freedom against trainers.  As you free more Pokemon they join your struggle against trainers.  The end game happens after you collect four Pokemon in your party and have defeated all the trainers.

Many people, in defense of the much beloved game, have vehemently gone against the PETA game calling it many different things.  But the question still stands: does PETA have a point?  I think that PETA could have a point – that is if you don’t know anything about Pokemon.

PETA is highlighting an issue that is very relevant to the game, specifically, and some to the game.  The game is, essentially, people capturing animals and forcing them to fight for them – or so it would seem to the person who doesn’t actually follow the games or the, more importantly, the show.  PETA brings up the idea of trapping animals and forcing them to fight for you, but anyone who is aware of the game knows right off the bat that this is NOT what Pokemon is about.

A few reasons why PETA, although bringing up a good issue to discuss, is actually wrong in the insinuations they make about Pokemon.

1) Pokemon are friends, not slaves.

Pokemon are always described as friends who fight alongside you, not for you.  The best way to describe this would be competitive martial arts.  I am active in competitive martial arts and have even won silver medal in a national tournament.  At no point have I ever felt animosity towards my coach.  Pokemon, as made very clear in the series and the game, enjoy battling.  There are some Pokemon who don’t enjoy it and those Pokemon, portrayed in both the series and the game, just don’t fight.  Trainers never fight Pokemon that don’t want to fight, and if they do the main character (Ash) always triumphs because of the love and care that he gives his Pokemon, not through ruthless tactics.

2) Happiness is key in the new Pokemon games.

In the newer Pokemon games a happiness meter was introduced (although not literally a meter).  Happiness affects many things about a Pokemon including things like Evolution.  If you do things your Pokemon doesn’t like then your Pokemon will not like you – flat out.  The Pokemon games have made a very strong effort (even if it has gone somewhat unnoticed), that the happiness of Pokemon matters – going so far as including a Pokemon masseuse that makes your Pokemon happier.

3) There are many other activities in the Pokemon Universe.

There are more than just trainers in the Pokemon Universe – Breeders, Beauty Contestants, Movie Makers, Firefighters, etc. This all demonstrates that Pokemon do much more than fight – they also do Beauty Contests, live relaxing lives on ranches with Breeders, fight fires alongside humans and are involved in making movies.  The Pokemon Universe, although originally only fighting, has evolved (pun intended) into a complex world where the most important thing between a Pokemon and it’s “owner” that they have a mutually loving relationship and they they work together towards mutually inclusive goals.

So while PETA may have a point to bring up, their beef with the Pokemon Universe can easily be put to rest by those who are familiar with the Pokemon Universe.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and tell me what you think about the PETA Black and Blue Pokemon game.  Did their parody game (if you played it) make you think about Pokemon in a different way?

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