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Can we catch ‘em all?

103 bytes added, 07:04, 4 November 2014
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David Buckingham and Julian Sefton-Green, {{bp|Pikachu’s Global Adventure| ''Pikachu’s Global Adventure: The Rise and Fall of Pokémon''}}'''
 
[[File:Prof_Carolina.png|thumb|Professor Carolina]]
 
We are being studied. That is a simple fact. {{bp|Pokémon}} and its fan base have been discussed in everything from seminal works on convergence culture to understanding children’s media consumption. Throughout media studies, various groups have studied Pokémon fans to grasp how our base has adapted to the large amount of data found within the franchise. Yet in the nearly twenty years of being studied, fans have rarely done the opposite and used media studies tools for their own benefit.
So let’s turn the tables a bit and use one media studies theory to help us in our struggle: media archaeology. This field attempts to understand media through its technology rather than its content, or rather to process content through the lens of ''media specificity''. For example, let’s say we wanted to study the North American release of {{bp|Pokémon Red and Blue Versions|''Pokémon Red''}}.
 
[[File:Red_EN_boxart.jpg|thumb|Pokémon Red Version boxart]]
 
Traditional media studies, or game studies in particular, might tell us to look at the video game itself. That could include studying the audiovisual content of the game, its plot or story, game mechanics such as battle, or the significance of trade in a cultural context. Those are all very fine points of study. Unfortunately, they are also very limited. How can we study why the audiovisuals looked and sounded as they did if we don’t consider the limitations of the {{bp|Game Boy}}? Can we truly understand battle if we don’t take a peek at how {{bp|Pokémon data structures in Generation I|data structures}} influence a Pokémon’s strength? How can we study trade in a vacuum without considering the hardware dependencies of a {{bp|Link Cable}}? If we only care about the game, emulation would be close enough to a video game so as to examine the experience, but we are not just studying a game. We are studying a media object that exists in a very specific technological framework. Through the use of media archaeology, we look at the whole picture rather than one part, and we gain a richer grasp of what that picture is.
In reality, the connections between versions are much more complicated, and media archaeology gives us the tools to understand alterations to the code itself. This gives fans the ability to understand the games in entirely new ways, and nowhere is this more apparent than in remakes. If we took {{bp|Game Freak}} and {{bp|Nintendo}} at face value, we might assume that {{bp|Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen Versions|''Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen''}} are remakes of {{bp|Pokémon Red and Green Versions|''Pocket Monsters Red and Green''}}. By using media archaeology and digging into the code, we discover that the remakes are actually remakes of {{bp|Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire Versions|''Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire''}} with the older audiovisual content painted on top of the newer game engine. Media archaeology gives us the tools to peek under the mainframe of versions and remakes and truly grasp why they work.
 
[[File:Confusion_status_III.png|thumb|Confusion in the Generation III games]]
 
You might ask yourself, who cares about all these connections when we can spend our time playing Pokémon? Surprisingly, as fans we can learn a lot from these sorts of examinations. By having a better grasp of version connections, we can exploit inter-generational {{bp|trade}} more easily, ensuring we are able to {{bp|Gotta Catch ‘em All|catch ‘em all}}. By looking at data structures influenced by platform specificity, we can take advantage of {{bp|Glitch|glitches}} to build a more powerful team of Pokémon and defeat our enemies in battle. Perhaps most importantly, as fans we can truly comprehend Pokémon not as {{bp|Game Freak}} or {{bp|Nintendo}} want us to comprehend them, but instead on our own terms. We can control our knowledge of these games in ways we never could before.