Eevee has always been my favorite Pokémon.
First off, Eevee is adorable. Second, it was the only Pokémon of the original 150 Pokémon to be able to evolve into three distinctly different forms: Jolteon (electric type), Flareon (fire type), and Vaporeon (water type). And I’m not the only Eevee lover out there: there is actually a community for Eevee lovers on Google+ with over 1,300 members.
In the original Red/Blue/Yellow versions of the game, you could only get one Eevee per play-through. Of course, as I owned all three games, I traded with myself after multiple play-throughs to get an Eevee, Jolteon, Flareon, and Vaporeon (its only three evolutions at the time) on one cartridge, but it took a long time to accomplish that.
So I was rocking Pokemon Y on the train last night, and I’m sure you can imagine how elated I was when I actually encountered an Eevee in the wild. I actually took an Instagram photo of my Pokédex when I caught it (follow me on Instagram, btw). I then ran around the grass some more and caught a second one. I was giddy at this point!
As my train stop approached, I closed my Nintendo DS and stuck it in my coat pocket. Suddenly, the girl next to me took off her headphones and told me “you can get a ton of Eevees on Wonder Trade right now, you know.” She then gave me a 15-second elevator pitch on why Wonder Trade is awesome, mentioning that she “even got a Zoroark from Wonder Trade” today. She was adamant about the amazingness of Wonder Trade. I nearly missed my window to get off the train because she was so excited.
And I had never seen this woman before.
In Chicago, it’s rare to strike up a conversation with a stranger on public transit. Unless you think someone is gorgeous and you’re asking them out on a date, riding public transportation is an ironically pretty solitary activity. Yet here was this reasonably attractive 30-year-old (at least, I estimated that she was in her upper 20s to early 30s) woman striking up a conversation with a male gamer. Women are “supposed” to be on the defensive in public, because men are Dangerous and Scary®, and male gamers are “supposed” to be socially awkward… and the shared experience of Pokémon threw this all these social expectations right out the window.
I remember being immersed in the original Pokémon games when I was a kid, thinking how cool it would be if, in real life, you could be walking around and have someone walk up and challenge you to a Pokémon battle. Well, we didn’t battle, but I had a moment of genuine human connection with a complete stranger that was honest and innocent.
And it was over Pokémon.
And that makes Pokémon one of the greatest video game series ever made.
A week prior to this, the guy sitting next to me on the bus (again, a stranger, but this one in his mid-20s) leaned over and asked “is that the new Pokémon game?” I told him yes, and he said it looked pretty awesome. There wasn’t much more to our conversation, but I probably could have chatted with him for a while if I’d been feeling a bit more social at the time. He gave me a knowing smile as he stepped off the bus, like we were both inside on a joke together. It was cool.
When’s the last time you had a sudden conversation with a stranger while riding public transit? It’s happened to me before, but I feel like Pokémon enables people to do it in a way that other video games can’t. This is a game that really aids in meeting new people.
What an amazing time to be a gamer!