I’m not proud of the thousands of hours I spent throughout my childhood playing video games. I shudder to think at the things I may have accomplished if I funneled all the energy I spent on them into worthwhile pursuits.
At the same time I don’t regret playing them either. Being a former video game addict has helped shape me into who I am today and for that I’m forever grateful.
Growing up my favorite game was Pokemon and although it was an enormous time sink, Pokemon also helped teach me several life lessons. It wasn’t worth the many hours I put into it, but looking back, I’m grateful to at least have something to show from that time period.
The first thing Pokemon taught me was to have a vision. Ash was a twelve year old nobody, but he understood that he wasn’t going to be a nobody for the rest of his life.
He knew that if he put in the work he had the potential to be the best in the world. He got off on the wrong foot; waking up late on the day he was to be given his first Pokemon and he almost missed his opportunity, but against all odds him and Pikachu were able make it to the top, proving all the haters wrong.
Expect the Unexpected
One of the craziest things about Pokemon was the critical hits. The enemy might only take away 4 HP from you with their first attack, but on their next turn they may KO your Pokemon and do 10+ damage with a critical hit.
Similarly, things in real life can be sailing smoothly, but in the blink of an eye the course of your whole life could change. On any given day you could be laid off or a friend or a family member could get into a car accident. It’s not always a pleasant thought, but it’s important to realize that things can change for the better, or worse at any moment.
Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover
The first time I played Pokemon I encountered a gentleman who said he’d sell me a Pokemon for $500. I thought it was a great deal so I quickly accepted his offer.
Little did I know the Pokemon I was going to get in exchange was possibly the worst in the game. The only move my new Magikarp knew was Splash and he was essentially useless in battle.
I ended up releasing Magikarp because he failed to do anything besides take up space. Boy did I regret that decision. I didn’t realize that my lowly Magikarp could one day turn into a powerful Gyarados and when I battled my brother a few days later his Gyarados absolutely thrashed my team. That brings me to my next point…
You Can’t Do It Alone
The Game Freak team was extremely clever in making it that certain Pokemon could only be obtained in each version of the game. This made catching them all literally impossible to do by yourself. (Well, unless you bought both games and another gameboy, but that’s besides the point.)
The same concept applies in real life. Regardless of your goals, there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to be the best at everything so you’re going to have to outsource some of your work to others.
There’s Always a Better Way
One of the interesting things about Pokemon was how your means of transportation gradually improved throughout the game. In the beginning you had to travel by foot and constantly deal with annoying wild Pokemon jumping out of the grass.
Later in the game, however, you were able to fly as well as travel by bike. You were also able to purchase repels to prevent the constant onslaught of Zubats while traveling through caves.
One of the best changes I’ve made in my life over the last few years is to always be on the lookout for ways to improve my life and change the way I do things.
One example of this is studying foreign languages. Instead of using traditional flashcards to learn vocabulary I’ve switched to Spaced Repetition Systems like Anki to minimize the time spent reviewing cards I already know and learn more effectively.
One of the things I got really caught up in while I played Pokemon was the strategy of it all. I remember preparing for tournaments against my friends and constantly evaluating the moves and Pokemon I planned to use against them.
I could use Charizard, but then I’d have two fire type Pokemon in my team and I’d be at a considerable disadvantage if any of my friends decided to use a water Pokemon.
I could teach my Venasaur solar beam, but then the other Pokemon would have a good chance of KOing me before I ever got to use it. The decisions went on and on.
But, this type of constant questioning has led me to becoming an extremely analytical thinker and it’s not often others have to point out details to me. I have the ability to see variables and think in an “if this then that” manner like few others are able to.
As a little kid, Pokemon was my main focus for a number of years. I developed an extreme version of tunnel vision, and it’s arguable that much of my success in other fields can be attributes to my childhood obsession.
I’m not sure if I have a naturally addictive personality, or if Pokemon simply fostered this within me, but I have an obsessive behavior unlike anyone I’ve ever met.
This can be a negative thing when it’s directed at unfulfilling pursuits such as video games, but in more recent years, being able to direct all my attention into more rewarding things like personal development has been absolutely wonderful.
The Missingno glitch, perhaps the most famous bug of all time could be used to duplicate whatever item you had 6th in your inventory. Missingno could be encountered about two-thirds of the way through the game and using him to duplicate rare candies was a great work around to having to spend extra time leveling your Pokemon up.
When my brother first told me of this trick I didn’t believe him because I thought the developers would be too smart to let a glitch like this pass. I was wrong.
Although there’s no magical shoreline that’s able to multiply your gold nuggets in real life, going against the grain of social conditioning often produces great rewards.
Things like going vegan, starting a business, or learning cold approach are often frowned upon or doubted by the majority of society, but they’re also among the most rewarding things you could ever choose to do.
Even though the gym leaders had some powerful Pokemon they were always able to be beaten because they only carried one type of Pokemon.
Misty may have been a tough fight for some trainers, but if you had just one decent grass Pokemon she was a pushover.
Maintaining balance in real life is important as well. Sometimes I neglect to give myself time to relax or have a social life and I spend all my time working.
This often allows me to get more done in the short term, but I often end up crashing for several days afterwards. I’ve learned that in the long run, I’m more productive and enjoy myself more if I simply provide myself a couple nights per week to socialize.
Preserve Your Gains
The final life lesson I learned from Pokemon was to preserve my gains. The most frustrating thing in the world was to lose hours of work just because my battery died or the gameboy froze and I hadn’t been willing to spend 10 seconds saving the game.
Sometimes I apply this concept to my life literally in the case of backing up my computer or occasionally saving new blog posts I’m working on, but I also apply it in things like my physical fitness and juggling.
If I’m traveling or don’t have enough time to do a full length workout I’ll do a few rounds of a pushup, plank, jump squat circuit. If I don’t have enough time to put in a full length practice for juggling I’ll simply go through each move I’m working on once to at least preserve my skill and then be on my way to wherever I need to go.
Writing this post has brought back a lot of memories and it’s crazy to think it’s only been 4 or 5 years since my life revolved around Pokemon
What have you learned from Pokemon? Share with me anything I’ve missed in the comments below. 🙂
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