I remember when I was wee, I had a gameboy colour. It was teal, and was covered in sparkly horse stickers.
I used it to play all sorts of games – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is still in there – and it works. (!)
But Pokémon Gold was my game of choice at the time. I used to pack it in my backpack while going on holidays. Along with a spare book, a packet of sweets, some music and some postcards, a habit I’ve yet to grow out of. I could play that game for hours, swallowing up the hours between airports and airplanes.
(I never actually had any strategy playing those games, yeah? I just went on my merry way and fought Pokémon with no particular direction, waiting for my wee starter to evolve and having absolutely no bloody idea when that was.)
So there I was, wandering along in LAX – I think? – and probably shoving new batteries into my gameboy when the game itself fell out. It fell with the label facing upwards. A large crowd of young men, all university students came swaggering towards me – I tried to pick up the game, but I fumbled in the way that you do when you’re little.
“Woah Pokémon Gold – cool!” one of them said.
They all laughed, and chuckled, and grinned at me. And I smiled back.They walked away, all terribly tall in my memory.
And it was nice. I felt as though I had been initiated, included, acknowledged. My footloose and fancy-free method of playing Pokémon was just as valid as anyone else’s. My experience of the game was different to anyone else’s, but nonetheless authentic. (Although probably not very effective.)
What I am trying to say is this:
Your involvement or obsession with a fandom or a franchise doesn’t necessarily make you a ‘better’ fan in the same way that reading books over electronic e-books or kindles doesn’t make you a ‘better’ reader. Memorising quotations, setting the theme song as your text alert or attending all the conventions in your state does not make you a ‘better’ fan. A die-hard fan, maybe. A hardcore fan, maybe – but not a ‘better’ fan.
(The more fans there are, the more people there are to share things with.)
I know a lot of people would agree with me on this concept – I know it’s quite contentious – and I’m always grateful for those of you who’ve read this far, but there are all sorts of fans, and the important thing to remember is that we have to include them all. We’re on this bizarre bandwagon together – balance is crucial. It takes all kinds. Welcome the most recent fans, recruit your friends, do all those lovely things – because little gestures like that can stick with you for years and years.
(And also, don’t let anyone tell you Totodile is not a cool starter Pokémon for Pokémon Gold. Totodile’s awesome.)