Hello there! Welcome to the world of pokémon! My name is Oak! People call me the pokémon Prof! This world is inhabited by creatures called pokémon! For some people, pokémon are pets. Others use them for fights. Myself...I study pokémon as a profession.
--Professor Oak, Pokémon red version.
  [1] Pokémon—short for pocket monsters—is the name of a game (really several) involving creatures called “pokémon” and “trainers.” Within the narrative of the game, the pokémon trainer catches pokémon in little holding containers (called “pokeballs”), and then uses those pokémon to fight other pokémon. On its surface, the fights have two reasons: 1) to weaken and capture wild pokémon, and 2) to defeat other pokémon trainers. The pokémon themselves are various, having different appearances, names, powers, potentials, weaknesses, and personalities. The actual form of the game, again, on its surface, takes several forms: 1) the card game, 2) the Gameboy versions, 3) the Nintendo 64 version, 4) the cartoons and movies, and 5) the various toys, merchandise, and artifacts. How these various aspects figure in this discussion of play is the subject of this paper, and thus further elaboration is available in following sections.
  [2] Any good trainer knows that you can't learn unless you play the game. Being a good trainer is a long and complicated process which involves working with the pokémon you have in order to accumulate experience and catch more pokémon. The more one loses oneself in the pursuit of pokémon, the greater the rewards. Pokémon evolve, they grow stronger, and thus lead the trainer to greater captures and greater pursuits. And this is why I have chosen to build my paper as a hypertext. For me, as a writer, the circuitous path through Deleuze and Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus has left me no alternative but to move myself through the material in a similar fashion. How can I move through the menagerie of concepts in an orderly fashion, and to what end? Why seek stasis in an always changing game? Instead, I have arranged ideas in any order, because there is no order, only movement through smooth space. This is only a game with no object but to move the reader.  
  [3] Throughout this adventure, I have been forced to adopt a number of conventions in order to facilitate play. First of all, I use the term “pokémon” to discuss the creatures, or objects of capture. I use the italicized “Pokémon” to discuss the specifically named products (ie. the cartoons, movies, card games, video games, etc.). And finally, I use the underlined “Pokémon” to discuss the world of ideas within which the pokémon and Pokémon discussions are situated. The terms “trainer” and “player” are used interchangeably, but it should be understood that the “trainer” function is, in some situations, a subcategory of the “player.” In other words, the “player” must be a “trainer” in order to play well. A third term, the “collector” is meant to distinguish between the various functions of “players” and “trainers”—sometimes the “trainer” collects pokémon as a part of the trainer function, sometimes the “player” collects pokémon (or Pokémon) for reasons outside of his/her role as “trainer.” But it also important to remember, that within the context of play, these distinctions collapse in various arrangements.  
  [4] Throughout the paper itself, there are a number of formal features which will facilitate misreading. Links provided throughout the body of the text offer definitions, which can be ignored, but offer assistance on what may be unfamiliar terms or counterintuitive uses of those terms. Endnotes provide supplementary or extraneous information. Certain themes that are discussed in each of the paper's sections feature links in the margins which will allow the reader to travel sideways by switching pokémon, and thus shifting into another discussion, tangentially related to the previous, but no more significant. The goal is to travel through the pool of effects and abilities, and if you find that your pokémon have exhausted themselves, then you may proceed to the “pokémon center” where they will be taken care of by nurse Joy. To begin play, choose a pokémon from the pokeballs below: Charmander, Pikachu, or Squirtle. Feel free to switch pokémon at any time. Good luck!  







Pokémon Center