Julia E. Hansbrough
The kid blinked, puzzled, swore under his breath, and logged back into Unreal. David logged him back out, and the cycle repeated a couple more times until the kid, muttering something about the “stupid broken computer,” stormed away. David was grinning. “Hey, that computer’s free now.” I didn’t even care about Unreal anymore; what I wanted to know was what the heck had just happened. “How’d you do that?” I sputtered.
Such outdoor experiences are typically seen as the antithesis of geekiness: it’s you versus nature, relying purely on your eyes and ears to take in as much as you can. You can’t ask Wikipedia what bird you just saw, and there’s no associated trading card game or comic book. But while I was on the trip, I couldn’t help but think of how all this identifying, classifying, and searching felt like one of my geekier hobbies. When my T.F. excitedly pointed out a rare bird, my first thought was, “My God, this is just like Pokémon!”
I played my first Magic tournament in third grade, with a bow in my hair and a deck of cards I had scrounged together by saving up allowances and “borrowing” cards from my older brother. I used a Lisa Frank notepad to keep track of “life totals.” In hindsight, I’m sure I looked perfectly ridiculous to the shop’s clientele.
I quickly learned that I really didn’t know anything about Pokémon. Have you ever tried to optimize your Pokémon’s EVs and base nature? Have you ever made sure your team had a good balance of walls, revengers, and offenders? What about defending against Rain Dance, Baton Pass, and Endeavor teams? I hadn’t either.