As Pokémon fans across the globe eagerly anticipate the release of the new three-part documentary, “How Do You Play,” today, I find myself unable to share their excitement. The documentary promises to immerse viewers into the vibrant and often overlooked Pokémon Trading Card Game community, featuring endearing stories of a teacher connecting with her students through the TCG, a lifelong fan pursuing a Pokémon-related career, and a family drawn closer together by their son’s dream to compete in the Pokémon World Championships. And while these heartwarming narratives are commendable, they fail to address the more controversial elements surrounding the Pokémon franchise.
Firstly, one cannot escape the apparent marketing strategy behind the timing of this release. “How Do You Play” seems to serve primarily as an advertisement for the upcoming Pokémon World Championships. Showcasing the transformative power of Pokémon in the lives of ordinary people is undoubtedly a powerful way to drum up excitement for the Championships. Yet, there’s a sense of disappointment that this documentary is less a thoughtful exploration of the community, and more a strategic advertising campaign.
In addition, the documentary avoids the decidedly darker side of the Pokémon phenomenon. From tales of workers stealing rare cards from factories to instances of burglars targeting local game stores solely for their Pokémon card collections, there is a sinister aspect of this otherwise wholesome franchise that deserves attention. Ignoring these aspects of the Pokémon community does not negate their existence, rather it paints an incomplete picture, downplaying the very real consequences and impacts these issues have on local businesses and fans alike.
Moreover, the series overlooks the ongoing issue of product scalping. The practice of buying popular items in bulk only to resell them at inflated prices has become a blight on the Pokémon community, making it increasingly difficult for genuine fans, especially children, to enjoy this beloved pastime. The unfair distribution tactics employed by some outlets add another layer of frustration and highlight the need for better regulation in this industry.
By choosing to focus only on the positive aspects of the Pokémon TCG community, the documentary misses an opportunity to address these problems head-on, which could inspire constructive conversations and potential solutions. A responsible examination of the darker elements of the fandom is necessary, not only to bring about change but also to ensure a healthy and sustainable future for the Pokémon community.
While the intent behind “How Do You Play” is commendable, its execution is lacking. If we truly wish to appreciate the depth and passion of the Pokémon TCG community, we must be willing to face all aspects of it, not just the parts that make us feel good. Only then can we hope to effect real change and ensure a fair and inclusive future for all Pokémon fans.