“a nurse… and a part time necromancer!”

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Desktop Screenshot of me playing Pokémon Red

Receiving your first Pokémon at Professor Oak’s lab, stepping into the grass on the first route of your journey, encountering that first new Poké Pal in the wild. Starting out on an adventure is always an exciting experience. However, when this adventure is marked by apprehension and possible sadness, the experience is somewhat different.

Having never engaged with a randomiser Nuzlocke before, my experience with Pokémon Red was something completely different than what I have experienced when playing a regular Pokémon game. The first thing that made it different was that the original Pokémon Red only had 151 obtainable Pokémon, not in this version, for I had the chance to encounter 151 Pokémon selected randomly from a total of 721. This immediately made the game more challenging as I had to choose between Ditto, Mothim, and Piplup for a starter Pokémon, and then deal with Pokémon you wouldn’t typically find on the first route, like Poliwrath and Beartic.

Following the basic rules of a Nuzlocke, I encountered, caught, and nicknamed a single Pokémon on each route. As my team and I traversed routes, trekked through forests, and battled countless trainers and wild Pokémon, we became stronger. However, there were some casualties along the way.

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All images used belong to The Pokémon Company

The above image shows the beloved Pokémon that I caught during my short adventure, including Olivia and Miura who died along the way. Under Nuzlocke rules, if a Pokémon faints at any point during your adventure, it is considered dead and must be released or placed in a PC box permanently. Although not a rule that has to be adhered to, it is often accepted that Pokémon be nicknamed so that their trainers become more attached to them.

Nicknaming Pokémon, in my opinion, does create a bond, as it immediately makes the experience more personal. This nicknaming coupled with your determination to keep your Pokémon alive really gives the game tension, and places a tremendous amount of responsibility on the player to perform to the best of their ability. Ultimately, playing a Pokémon game while adhering to Nuzlocke rules can be a very emotional and tense experience, one that is undeniably different than the experience you would receive from a playing a Pokémon game in the way it was intended.

True to the format, the game forced me to think more strategically about how to conserve my team mates and keep them alive. When I did let team mates die, it was an emotional experience. Each loss made me feel guilty and sad, I questioned whether I could have saved them, and all I could do was move on and learn from my mistakes.

However, while playing the game I realised that Pokémon in the Nuzlocke format that die, are effectively zombies. Sure, if they faint then by the rules you are no longer able to use that Pokémon, but the games mechanics themselves will not let Pokémon actually die. If you took your fainted partner to the Pokémon Centre, Nurse Joy would take your Pokéballs, slap them into her machine and stare at them as technology did the rest. In the ordinary way you would play a Pokémon game, Nurse Joy would just heal your friends, in a Nuzlocke, she is effectively a nurse (because she still heals your Pokémon) and a part time necromancer!

In my autoethnographic analysis of this text, I will be looking at the experience itself, but also what made this experience possible. This means that I will be looking at technology and remix culture, the two elements that largely come together to make this possible. However, I also want to look into whether such experiences have adverse effects, focusing largely on games publishing companies.

Regarding technology, I would like to look into how people access experiences like this. To understand this would involve looking at the technologies and cultures that allow this such as emulators, ROMs, and P2P file sharing. It would also be interesting to discover whether it is possible to play some of the newer games available on the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS systems via emulators or related technologies.

Another area that makes these styles of games possible is Remix culture. Eduardo Navas looks at Remix theory in terms of music, but says that a remix is a second mix of something pre-existing that is recognisable as coming from this pre-existing product. A remix is only a Remix if it has history, i.e. Pokémon Glazed, a remix of a Pokémon game, is only recognisable as a remix if its origins can be traced back to the game that has been initially remixed. My experience with Pokémon Red can be described as a remix, because although functioning in the way that the original did, new elements had been added into the game to create a new experience, such as: new Pokémon, types, and attacks/moves. A further element that adds to this remix are the self-adhered to Nuzlocke rules.

Moving on, I would like to wrap up this post by talking about the presentation of this project. At this stage, there are still elements of my research area that are unclear which I need to look into further. However, with the current scope of the project, it would serve me well to present it as a multimedia project that incorporates video, images, and text. This would likely be presented on Prezi, however, until I fully nail down my project as a whole this could change.

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