HOUSMAIL HM#050 - A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE OF POKEMON  14 December 1999 __________________________________________________________________________

Nintendo’s Pokemon is one of the latest commercialised game crazes, designed to capture the minds (and the pocket money!) of our children. It has already taken the USA by storm, where some media reports claim that the games versions now outsell all other games by a comfortable margin. There have been other reports that in some schools, it has resulted in playground and classroom problems, which have made it necessary to ban children from bringing it to school. Many Christians have spoken out to insist that, although allegedly only a game, it has underlying occult associations to which concerned parents will not want to expose their children.

Pokemon is short for “POCKET MONSTERS”. They are mythical animal like creatures possessing supernatural powers that normal animals don’t have. Some Pokemon are already owned by people called “trainers”, who use them in game battles to defeat their enemies. Others live in the wild where, under certain conditions, they can be caught by trainers, who can then use them to increase their “powers” in battle. Each has its own unique “powers”. Some “Monsters” are tiny, cute, and relatively harmless. Others are huge, mean, and aggressive. Their powers include abilities such as clairvoyance, mind reading, telekinesis, casting spells, injecting poison, throwing bolts of lightning, kicking, causing headaches, etc. Recommended game techniques from some sources, include DECEIVING or CONFUSING the opposition by smiling when things look bad, frowning when things look good, or singing and humming annoying jingles to destroy the opponent’s CONCENTRATION.

The craze is now in the process of “invading” Australia, where it seems to have made a very high profile appearance in the following FOUR areas:

At the time of writing this, the Cartoon Movie is set to appear in Australia later this week. It is currently getting a lot of the usual hyped up publicity to prepare us for the event. I saw a “trailer” just a few days ago, where the principle appeal was for children to learn how to use their PSYCHIC POWERS to eliminate their problems by using Pokemon violence, and progressing in skill to eventually become “the greatest trainer in the world”. (Think about it. In their own way, Hitler, Idi Amin, and Pol Pot all had their own “adult” versions of that philosophy!)

The cartoons are currently appearing on a local TV “breakfast show” for children. On TV the cartoons are free, but of course the timing of their appearance is a remarkable “coincidence”! I haven’t watched any myself, but reports indicate that they show “role model heroes” in action, using the powers of the Pokemons, to win their battles against enemies. Apart from advertising the Movie, they are also creating an intense interest in the Game itself. It is all VERY cleverly designed advertising psychology, with an ultimate goal of transferring money from the pockets of your children, into the bottomless coffers of the commercial traders and their shareholders.

The Video Games go a step beyond the Movie and the Cartoons. In the games the player actually participates in the destructive activities by pushing the right buttons at the right time. The best players are those with the fastest reflexes. In the interest of winning, respect for life and the rights of others are cast aside completely. All you have to do to crush the opposition, is own the most powerful and destructive Pokemons, and push the right buttons to deploy them until their “supernatural powers” do enough harm to cripple the other side.

The cards are simply another way of playing the game, without a computer. If you have the best collection of the most powerful Pokemon cards, and you play them right, you are “top dog”. So success in the game depends largely on spending enough money, or trading with other collectors to acquire the best possible assortment of powerful Pokemon cards. This has created a huge parallel “collectors world” where cards are purchased commercially, or traded and swapped between collectors. It is easy to spend hundreds of dollars to satisfy the LUST for “bigger barns”, more power, and the status that goes with having the best collection.

There are many psychologists who are sounding warnings that cartoon and video game violence are amongst the influences which condition impressionable young minds for violent reactions, which later lead to things like road rage, and schoolyard massacres. Of course not all children are affected to that extreme, but there appears to be considerable anecdotal evidence that SOME are!

For Christians who know what God says about the use of “psychic powers” and all other similar “forbidden arts”, that aspect of the publicity campaign will set the alarm bells ringing loudly! And the promise of power to become “the greatest in battle” is an appeal to the ego, arousing instincts which do not fit at all well with the Christian ideals of the Sermon On The Mount. It isn’t even close to turning the other cheek, or blessing and doing good to enemies!

I tread delicately here! The great majority of our society see Pokemon as nothing more than just another entertaining “Children’s Game”, (which is also apparently enjoyed by some “adults”). Even many Christians appear to be amongst that number.

However for those Christians familiar with what the Bible says, the “forbidden arts” of the occult are included amongst the many other Old Testament SINS for which God prescribes the DEATH PENALTY! Regardless of what our own personal religious philosophy thinks about the nature and reality of the occult, it is NOT HARMLESS! It is high on the list of things which God calls ABOMINATION! (Deut 18:9-12) It is amongst the many sins which ALIENATE and SEPARATE people from God. And forgiveness requires the same recognition, confession, and repentance, as any other sin.

The game is actually a VERY sophisticated psychological system of behaviour modification. Evil is made to look good, and good is made to appear ineffective and boring. The “button pushing mentality” induces conditioned reflexes in which sinful thoughts and reactions become increasingly automatic. It plays down the nature and consequences of sin. At its worst it can become a tool by which young minds are taken captive, and consciences are seared against the recognition of sin for what it is.

My personal conviction is that disguising something which God calls SIN and ABOMINATION, as a harmless children’s GAME, is just as offensive to God, as the wilful open practice of the sin itself. It has the potential to cause children to sin. Those who encourage it can earn themselves a “millstone necktie”! (Matthew 18:6)

Concerned Christian parents will want to teach their children to avoid the dangers of the occult, rather than encourage them to think about it as something they can play games with.

They will not want to encourage them in any game where it becomes attractive to learn the techniques of deception, confusion, and distraction, to overcome their enemies, or solve their problems.

And they will want their children to learn to react instinctively with the answers that Jesus offers for life’s problems, rather than succumb to the in built TEMPTATIONS in a game that, by its very nature, alienates young minds from God ..... perhaps for ever.



A number of those who practised magic arts brought their books together
and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of
them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.
So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily.(Acts 19:19) __________________________________________________________________________