Pokemon Psychology 101: Why Do We Still Love It?

Why we buy the same game over and over again.

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Pokemon is a worldwide phenomenon. The little creatures have captured our hearts while the games continue to capture our minds. The question is, though, why do we continue to buy nearly the same game over and over again? Why are we so obsessed with Pokemon? The reasons lie in the psychology of Pokemon games. Keep in mind, these are all theories and so they don’t all align with each other. They’re just ideas as to why we love Pokemon so much.

1. Hunter-Gatherer’s Instinct

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Legendary Pokemon become the ultimate collectible and many players aim to get all of them.

Back in the old days when humans were hunter-gatherers, we sought to collect as much food and supplies as possible to secure ourselves. The same idea can be applied in Pokemon. The multitude of Pokemon and the idea of catching all of them appeals to this instinct. The more Pokemon we have, the more secure we feel in the game. We can choose from whichever Pokemon we want if we have a variety. This could also explain why we do this for every game generation. We want to be masters of our environment, no matter where we are, and thus we want to master each region by collecting and battling with that region’s Pokemon. So, even if we whine and complain about how dumb the new Pokemon look, we can’t resist mastering them. All the things you can obtain in the game further this instinct, from Pokemon to badges to contest ribbons.

2. Nurturing Instinct

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In Pokemon, you nurture and raise your Pokemon. You watch them grow, give them vitamins and berries to make their stats better. In some ways, the Pokemon you level up and travel with are like your children. You want them to grow stronger and succeed and so you help make them the best they can be. To some extent, you may even become emotionally attached to the Pokemon you’ve been with since the beginning. You even have the choice to give them names to solidify your bond with them. Our natural urges to be good parents are perfectly suited for a game where you can raise your own creature and make it better.

3. Competitive Drive

Some even create their own challenges like Nuzlock or beating the ELite Four with a magikarp.
Some even create their own challenges like beating the Elite Four with just a magikarp.

Who doesn’t want to be the best? The Pokemon franchise has often encouraged friendly competition – from the in-game competitions with the gyms, elite four, and contests, as well as actual Pokemon tournaments with both the game and cards. Then there’s always been the option to play your friends for bragging rights as well. Everybody wants to be the best there ever was and the Pokemon games give you plenty of opportunities to feel that way, not to mention how players have come up with their own challenges like the popular Nuzlocke challenge.

4.  Habit

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After so many of my formative years being consumed by Pokemon in way or another, it only makes sense I would continue to support the series despite my concerns. In some ways, buying the Pokemon games has become a habit. In the end, this may be the only reason loyal fans still play. I know I’m not a fan of some of the additions, but I still go out and buy the games every time despite this. Maybe at this point it’s just nostalgia, or just that I’ve gotten so used to buying the games that I keep doing it. Either way, those of us who have been playing since we were young may have habit to blame for still playing Pokemon.

5. Because it’s Pokemon

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To some extent Psychology may be involved in why we continuously buy Pokemon, but there’s also something else. They’re always adding something. Every generation has brought something new to the table. From Steel types to contests, to new battle modes, to Fairy-types, there’s always a new part of the Pokemon world to explore. Maybe all of the things above are true, but there’s always someone out there trying Pokemon for the first time and falling in love with it. Whatever the magic formula may be, I’m just glad they figured it out in the first place.

Have any theories on why we love Pokemon so much? Let me know in the comments below!