Do Pokémon video game tournaments need age divisions?

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    黒い王様 Archaic's Avatar Webmaster
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    Default Do Pokémon video game tournaments need age divisions?

    Before commenting, please read the rants posted to Penny-Arcade here and here (URL subject to change for the second one, will update that later).

    Having seen this exact same thing happen during numerous Pokémon events I've gone to and/or been involved in...really, I think something has to be done here. The kids are the lifeblood of our fandom, really. Sure, there's a lot of us mature age fans, but I wouldn't say we're exactly acting mature. Older fans are scaring the younger fans away from the franchise, and that's not a good thing. They handle it in the TCG by having age divisions, so why couldn't a similar policy be implemented elsewhere, so the kids might get a chance to really have a go and have some fun?
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    Pumpkin Master Joey's Avatar
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    Sounds like a good idea to me. Anyone who gets satisfaction out of beating a little kid at pokemon needs to take a good look at themselves. It'll end up being better for both sides I think, as the younger kids can have fun and the older fans can have some challenge. If it works for the TCG, it should work for the video games.

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    Whats my age again? GuitarHero's Avatar
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    I'm not sure why they don't have age divisions for the video game... It would help ensure an even battle on either side. Besides, It breaks my heart to see twenty year olds beating teh shit out of ten year old girls with beautiflys and pachirisu...

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    UPN 事務職員 Talon87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archaic View Post
    Having seen this exact same thing happen during numerous Pokémon events I've gone to and/or been involved in...really, I think something has to be done here. The kids are the lifeblood of our fandom, really. Sure, there's a lot of us mature age fans, but I wouldn't say we're exactly acting mature. Older fans are scaring the younger fans away from the franchise, and that's not a good thing. They handle it in the TCG by having age divisions, so why couldn't a similar policy be implemented elsewhere, so the kids might get a chance to really have a go and have some fun?
    I don't think this will realistically work for an important reason which separates Pokemon from Go or Chess, or even the Pokemon TCG ...

    In strategy games like Go or Chess, both players come to the table with their own knowledge but the same tools. Sure, one person is assigned to White while the other is Black, but beyond that, it's the same King, Queen, and Bishop (chess) or the same tengen, hoshi, and moku (Go).

    In Pokemon, players not only come with their knowledge but also a pre-constructed team. Because of this, there is no way to prevent an older player (say an obsessive 30 year old Pokemaniac) from constructing his little brother (say a delinquent bully)'s team. Fully EV-trained Deoxys + Mewtwo + Kyogre (let's say) vs. the helpless mis-EV-trained Pikachu, Charizard, and Lugia. It's a bloodbath waiting to happen.

    The only way to make Pokemon tournaments more like professional Go or Chess tournaments (i.e. more fair) for small children would be to force them to use identical teams and to flip a coin to see who gets to go first. This of course takes out a lot of the fun of Pokemon -- raising your own monsters to which you grow attached and watching them triumph (or faint trying) against all opposition.

    Now, what about the TCG you mentioned? Surely, in the TCG, people do not have to use identical decks, right? And like you say, "it seems to work." Right? Well ... don't be so quick. There is a major important difference between the TCG tourneys and the VG tourneys. In the TCG, playing any deck requires extreme knowledge (ahead of time) how the deck works and how the game is to be played. There is therefore no reason for a bully to be attracted to the TCG; it takes too much effort, too much personal investment of time, for him to learn how to play with somebody else's deck. Hell, if he's that interested, why not just build his own? The video games, on the other hand, require much less appreciation of strategy. Particularly in a "14 and under" age bracket. Most kids don't know about EVs ... the Switching game ... Spikes ... or hell, even really old GSC tactics like Leech Seed + Toxic or Mean Look + Baton Pass. Most of these kids' ideas of playing Pokemon is pure sweeping, and pure sweeping is pretty easy for a bully to get the hang of.

    So no. Long story short, I don't think age brackets will work for Pokemon because there will always be a 10-year-old bully who will get his Pokemaniac older brother or sister to build him "the Dream Team" and he will destroy the competition. And these kids do more to damage the franchise than any benevolent 30 year old ever did. 10 years old, 30 years old, makes no difference: all that matters is how high you register on the Douche-o-Meter.

    Edit: I thought I would add ...
    - checking kids' creatures for EV training would be a hassle beyond your average GameStop employee ...
    - ... and besides, who decides what "correct" EV training is, anyway? One guy says put effort into Arcanine's Attack, the other guy says put it into Special Attack. (as an example)
    - giving kids a "Pokemon Video Game IQ test" would not work since bullies could just intentionally fail anyway
    Last edited by Talon87; 25th July 2007 at 11:06 PM.

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    Ben Eary Mukubird's Avatar
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    Going along with what Talon (superbly) mentioned, age brackets for the games won't work as efficient as the ones for the TCG. It's too cumbersome to sort out who battles competitively and who battles casually.

    It would be too generalized to say that anyone over the age of 10 are hardcore EV and IV trainers. There are some teens who don't care about the Natures, EVs and IVs, and just play for the nostalgia. Likewise, you can't just think that all kids below the age of 10 are casual battlers. I've been surprised at how young some of the EV trainers are, like around 7 years old. Some kids want to beat their friends, and have access to the Internet. With that motivation, the kid will probably check out sites like GameFAQs for some pointers on team building. If they have an older sibling who plays competitively, they can also ask them for that.

    Basically, it's as the saying goes : "Never judge a book by its cover." You can't make a Competitive ladder and a Casual ladder either, as some hardcore trainers can just deny EV training and go for a quick win.

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    when you need more, have+ bell02+'s Avatar
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    I don't know, I'd probably feel the same way as the Penny Arcade guy. It's really neat (to me) to see kids take so much interest in something like that. Plus I can totally kill them hard with my Dialga and make them cry, turn back time and do it again!

    JK, I don't think I could do that. I have a tendency to try to play easy or to the level of the opponent. In that sense, I guess it wouldn't be that fair, but I dunno. It's such a little tournament that I doubt GS employees even care one way or the other.

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    Registered User The Outrage's Avatar
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    I had a longer thing to say, but I accidentally clicked a link before posting and now it's gone and I forget exactly what I put, but I basically agree with Talon87 and -Starly-. There are kids younger than me who know a lot more about competitive battling, yet there are adults who couldn't battle their way out of a paper bag, and then there are the fanboy kids, and the hardcore battler adults.

    The only reason I would want an age bracket is because I get annoyed by young children, although i would get annoyed by older fans singing the pokemon theme(and yes someone has done that) and argueing over who ash will marry. Also think of the adults who would get so humiliated being beaten by someone half their age (15 vs 30)

    As for the TCG, let's not forget that the older you are, the more freedom you have to spend on your money. Money = Cards. The more money you have, the more cards you can buy, and you can increase your chances of getting those cards yoou need and building your "perfect" deck.

    So no. Long story short, I don't think age brackets will work for Pokemon because there will always be a 10-year-old bully who will get his Pokemaniac older brother or sister to build him "the Dream Team" and he will destroy the competition.
    To be fair, it's not like they would know how to use it.
    Last edited by The Outrage; 26th July 2007 at 08:16 AM.

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    UPN 事務職員 Talon87's Avatar
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    What I'm trying to say though is that a bully who knows little about the TCG couldn't win his way out of a paper bag. The TCG is not an automated process; it requires the player to know the rules of the game, the order of turns, etc. Otherwise it quickly becomes clear that he has no idea what he's doing. The video games, on the other hand, are highly conducive for bullies to bluff their way through to victory. Everything is "click click click" -- think of it like the analogue of fighters' button mashing, if you will. (The common complaint that SSB:M is not a proper fighter for fighting tourneys because a child can win just by button mashing, unlike in VF or GGX.) I'm saying that a kid who knows nothing about Pokemon except the types will do pretty well if you hand him a Starmie that knows Surf, Ice Beam, T-Bolt, and Grass Knot; he's going to have a harder time of it with a Ninjask, but still, at least he can play; and he's going to be completely baffled if you hand him a Psychic/Electric TCG deck and say "Here."

    It's not like the TCG nor Go nor Chess, not at all. The fact that the video games are largely automated and allow for a child to blindly click through the text and menu trees is why so many snotty little children who cannot read one ounce of Japanese import these games and think they're hot shit. :roll: This, I am saying, is why the video games cannot (and must not) be handled the same way as the TCG is handled. If you want to keep younger players from having their feelings hurt or from being taken unfair advantage of, it will take much more than age brackets to accomplish.

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    Can't Touch Dis. Doctor Oak's Avatar
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    It would probably help if there actually were Videogame tournaments.

    Aside from this Gamestop pushed one, there have only been two Nintendo hosted events since the days of Pokemon stadium - and one of those was at JAA.

    For being the lifeblood of the series, the videogames are amazingly over looked compared to the rest of the franchise.

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    I accidentally posted this in some other thread, so I'm transplanting it here.

    I have one thing to add to this thread (woo-hoo, Devil's advocate!): It's a tournament. If you don't breed, train, and build your team to win competitively, then don't go to a tournament expecting to win. I realize there's a gray area when it comes to Pokémon because of the young children, who may or may not be able to conceptualize "serious meta-gaming" and what it means... but you simply can't hold a public tournament of this sort without expecting that the person with the best team, setup, and strategy will probably win.

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    UPN 事務職員 Talon87's Avatar
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    Yeah, well (now it's my turn to be the Devil's Advocate! Watch as I argue against everything I've said before!) you have to admit that there's a need for dividing people into different brackets based on talent. After all ...

    - you wouldn't want to watch the Duke men's basketball team square off against the 1996 Chicago Bulls
    - you wouldn't want to have Bobby Fischer entering into the New York City 35th Annual Junior Chess Championship claiming he's "young at heart"
    - you wouldn't want to allow J. K. Rowling to enter into a British writing contest for "aspiring authors"

    There is something to be said for, "Age brings with it experience." I still stand by what I've said above, but I can (at the very least) sympathize with Archaic that ...
    a) something has to be done, and
    b) an age limit is perhaps as good as any we're going to come up with

    Departing from my devil's advocacy (since, fun as it is for the Advocate, it can be a pain in the arse for the other members of the discussion ;p), I will say that I think Letter B above is going too far and I would rather (personally) say, "If an age bracket is the best you've got, then maybe we'd best not have any brackets at all. :|"

    It takes time, and it won't weed everybody out (esp. not bullies), but there is something to be said for holding Round Robin competitions for the first hour at the convention hall (or wherever the tournament is being held) and to then rank the contestants and sort them into brackets accordingly. Might be a little insulting to some of the kids who think they're such hot shit, but it would still offer some hope for the little tykes who've got teams of Level 30 Pikachu and Bulbasaurs that the WiFi'll need to boost up to 100 for 'em. ^_^;

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    I don't have alot to say on the topic on account of alot what I would've said already was. That being said....

    Just like Pokemon the videogame, once you understand a Collectable Card Game, its easy to construct a deck that does exactly what you want, when you want. No you can't control the exact order of cards. But a well constructed deck can move and make use of its potential ALOT faster than, say, buying 5 random booster packs of 6 cards each, sticking them all together, and using that.

    I haven't played Pokemon TCG, so please forgive me if I get a few facts wrong, I'm going off of my previous knowledge of CCGs such as MTG, YuGiOh, and Metal Gear Acid 2.

    But if you consider a deck of 30 cards constructed properly, its easy to get one's self up and running quickly, espeically when some cards allow for the searching or playing of others.

    It was mentioned above that a person in a Pokemon videogame tournament could go into battle with a team their brother EV trained into god-like smashers.

    Well what about the TCG player who has a brother who goes to a card shop, tosses down a couple hundred bucks and builds a deck of powerful, rare cards? Isn't it the same thing? Its basically having someone else construct and show you how to use a powerful set.

    I agree with the above that a Tournament is a Tournament, not a feel good hug box. But I also agree that age brackets might not be a bad idea. But perhaps rather than age it could be seperated by...dare I say it.....IRL Badges?

    What if perhaps the tournament(s) grant a sort of privledge for veteran rank competition?

    In this way, you have the no-badge kids battling at the lower ranks, those with a few badges battling at the mid ranks. And those with all their lovely, plastic and metal badges battling with level 100 teams of EV trained Legendary Pokemon.

    It doesn't discriminate since anyone can earn a badge if they show enough skill. It doesn't automatically take someone young and stick them in the shallow water, and take someone older and hurl them into the blood pits. Simply put its up to each individual trainer how searious they want to take things and how powerful they want to make their Pokemon.

    I'm taking the anime and manga and source material into account for this.

    Everyone in the anime is not Satoshi's/Ash's age. Most Gym Leaders are infact either in their teens, or some even in their 30s. Also if you look at alot of NPCs in the game, they range from little kids in Innertubes to middle age psychics to corporate CEOs.

    Now obviously, it wouldn't be taken exactly from the anime. Obviously each badge wouldn't be held by someone who used a single type. Or if it were that person would have enough leeway to create a team that wouldn't be slaughtered by a single Super Effective type.

    I feel that "badges" would not only give a certain immersive feeling to tournaments. But also provide a (theoretically) tried and true method for keeping the tykes smashing their Pikachu's into eachother. While the older trainers spent hours upon hours trading between their two DS to produce a team with a power-level WELL OVER 9000. =3

    Afterall, just like the games and anime. You can't just walk into the Pokemon League and challange the Elite Four with a Turtwig in your pocket and a dream in your heart. You have to earn it.

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    UPN 事務職員 Talon87's Avatar
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    God forbid that this is the inner Hoosier in me, but I read that as Indy Racing League Badges. -.-

    Regarding your badge theory: again, this depends entirely on someone's willingness to wear the proper number of badges. There is no way for Nintendo, GameStop, or any other agency to force hypothetical "Chris Brown, 2007 United States Champion at Pokemon Diamond & Pearl" from walking into a tournament with no badges and saying, "0 badges. I'd like to play in the Junior League, please. :)"

    Still, your badge idea is a cute rallying point for fans of the franchise. If they do decide to offer players a ranking system, I would hope to see it enter in a form similar to this.

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    Your right on the account that it wouldn't keep the older players out of the kiddie pool.

    But on the other hand, when you apply a kind of ranking system like that, suddenly that kid hanging out in the kiddie pool with zero badges is gonna look pretty lame to the other people his age playing around with 4-5 badges.

    Not to mention he's gonna feel even more lame when other 20 year olds ask "How many badges you got dude?" And he has to just shrug and mumble and show an empty badge case.

    As an aside, it doesn't have to be physical badges. I know we're getting rather searious and high security for what is essentially a kids game with an adult niche, but perhaps...Tournament Trainer Photo IDs? I mean it wouldn't be incredibly hard to produce. My local Trade-school produces plastic photo-IDs for all the students at the start of every semiester. Not to mention arcade games like Initial D 3rd stage (Mazda RX8 FTW!) use magnetic card readers to save a player's progress.

    If you consider a small Pro-Trainer fee (7$?) to acquire a decent card, with photo, name, and then give a means of updating earned badges at tournaments. Suddenly its not so farfetch'd an idea.

    Again, I know alot of people would scoff at the idea of a "kids game" having that kind of crowd control. Then again, scoffing at ideas is generally what keeps them as ideas and not viable solutions.

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