Or “The Glorious Collection of Historical Weirdos that Made Pokémon Possible”
Or “How Pokémon is the Blessed Child of Victorian Botanists and Dungeons and Dragons”
Or “How to successfully talk about Pokémon at dinner parties, happy hours, and Friendsgivings”
Pokémon are beloved. They are the wind beneath our wings. Their love keeps lifting us higher. Pocket monsters are the spark that lit the fire that burned through $100 billion US dollars of global sales through the year of our lord 2021. It is the biggest franchise in the world, and not narrowly.
And the very soul of collectible trading card games is owed to …the Victorians?
For real! The roots of what allows Pokémon to be Pokémon come from these bustled ladies, pale kids, and overstuffed men. And you can use this very information to talk about nerd stuff in mixed company – that is, a group of dinner party guests who A. also love CCGs or B. only know enough about Pokémon to be pretty sure they hate them. With an original release in the late 1990’s and the average fan then in their pre-teens, we’re looking at a pool of devotees now in their 30s spending more time socializing over food and drinks than riding bikes around the neighborhood. And the people need something to talk about! Interesting, surprising information about something that they love!
And the factoid list is pretty surprising. The very concept of collectible, handheld images and the market that demanded them? Victorian. Cataloging and categorizing organisms in a standardized, relative way? Victorian. Illustrations showing the context and identifiable features of a subject in an ecosystem? Pretty freaking Victorian! And, in very notable ways, many of these ideas were pioneered by Victorian women in England’s burgeoning middle class, after they were ostracized from other sciences and sequestered from “important” art subjects. Sure, they also gave us mini golf (win!), and a fad where people pretended to limp (what?); but their collective work and whims truly laid a foundation that was necessary for the later build out of the Pokémon empire.