We’re going to focus on the Pokémon trading card game here. The first Pokémon “thing” was a pair of GameBoy role playing games, released February 27, 1996 in Japan. Based on one of the creator’s childhood obsession with watching bugs, it was expanded into a Japanese trading card game in October of the same year.
And so we begin.
A prototype of a baseball CCG (collectible card game) was made in 1904, but never finalized or released. That might be later than you think. And it would be another 90 years before the idea really flourished. In 1993 Magic: The Gathering, invented by Richard Garfield, was patented by Wizards of the Coast in the US. A later court case would debate the trade secrets of the gameplay, but what really differentiated Magic’s release from earlier collectibles and games (both of which were already well-established markets) was the novel merge of the two – a supercharged hook of a playable game with covetable rare additions that anyone could get, by chance, from a sealed booster pack offered at modest prices. Available where all trading cards are sold, natch.
It had the virtual jetpack of a legitimately fun game, the added rocket fuel of collectibility, and the Golden Ticket allure of high value possibilities from weekly-allowance-scale investments. Magic: The Gathering took the market by storm.
Pokémon was the next CCG, launching in Japan in 1996 and America (also via Wizards of the Coast) in 1999. Within months, Pokémon was outselling everything; and the broad audience it found responded to traits built into the series that had been developed, codified, and championed by (yes!) those Victorians.