What can Pokemon teach us about consumption?

Growing up in the 90s, Pokemon was a massive craze during my childhood – I would have been around 12 years old when the original gameboy games and cartoon came out. While I didn’t have a gameboy, I eventually borrowed a gameboy and a copy of Pokemon Blue from a friend who had updated to a new color version.

Photo Credit: luisvilla, cc

Photo Credit: luisvilla via Compfight cc

Just like every other 12 year old I spent hours collecting all 150 Pokemon, trading for those that I couldn’t get in the version I had borrowed. That was the whole point of the game – “Gotta Catch ‘em All” was even the slogan plastered over the front of the box. Despite this, I realised fairly early in the game that the best strategy to developing a fearsome team was to focus your efforts on just a handful of Pokemon. At the end of the day you could only carry six Pokemon at a time – as long as those six were trained well it didn’t matter how much work you had put into any of the others.

I hadn’t thought about Pokemon in about ten years when I suddenly had a realisation – the best strategy in the game was essentially a form of minimalism. It was much better to have six monsters that you really enjoyed using and had trained well than 150 monsters that you never used because they were all low level. This translates perfectly over to the real world and possessions – owning fewer possessions that you cherish and regularly use makes much more sense than wasting your money on hundreds of items that sit on the self gathering dust.

In the game, you had to ‘work’ training your monsters and in life you need to work to earn a wage in order to buy things. By focusing the fruits of our labour on the things we truly value it means we can spend less time working and more time enjoying life. Maybe one day I will come across a gameboy at a thrift store and play through Pokemon again – who knows, maybe this time my character will spend less buying pokeballs and more time relaxing in the safari zone!

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  1. I remember Pokemon being a huge craze too! I didn’t have the Pokemon games but did have a gameboy at one point. Tetris was my thing! I like the analogy here and I’ve certainly limited my possessions over the last few years to stuff that I really need and not what I’d really like.

  2. Amy says:

    Hahaha, it’s so refreshing to find a financial blogger young enough and nerdy enough to make Pokemon references. I totally agree with the underlying theme, if you concentrate your efforts at a few particular tasks, they’ll be accomplished far more efficiently. My level 100 Dragonite salutes you sir.

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