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Autism and Pokemon - a slightly less stressful thread. But it will be interesting! I promise! Share if you want to look like a massive nerd... /1
I believe that the Pokemon games, from the original Red and Blue (or Green if you Gail from Japan) Gameboy games, are absolutely tailored to an #autistic market and are pretty much perfect. /2
(I'm not suggesting that #autistic people who hate pokemon are not autistic, nor am I saying neurotypical people who enjoy pokemon are autistic. Just to be clear.)/3
Firstly. Pokemon was the brainchild of Satoshi Tajiri, a Japanese game developer, who is autistic. He was deeply interested in entomology as a child, roaming the countryside around Tokyo to find interesting bugs. /4
After years developing games and publishing a gaming magazine (Game Freak) he pitched his idea of a monster collecting game to Nintendo, who didn't quite 'get it' but were impressed by his portfolio of work. Pokemon was born. /5
For those who somehow have avoided the game to this point, at its core Pokemon is a 'collection' game. It's the electronic version of stamp collecting or, indeed, butterfly collecting. There are loads of extra bells and whistles, of course, but that's the inner core. /6
Collecting things in a single minded drive for completion seems to be a bit of an #autistic thing, though it's not exactly unique to us. But it seems common that collections of items, from stones to straws, are frequently our 'Special Interests'. Pokemon feeds this. /7
Not only were there 151 bizarre creations to collect. They also all had different stats. You may catch two Weedle to discover one is a wimp, whilst the other is, well, slightly less of a wimp. So this increases the collecting potential massively. /8
Throw in genders, shiny (different colour to the norm for their species) and different 'formes' and you have a veritable cornucopia of collecting excitement to enjoy. This tickles a particularly #autistic itch very nicely indeed. /9
Spend any time with an #autistic collector of stuff and youll soon discover they also want to mess around with their collection. Organise it. Arrange it. Show it off. Play with it. Again, Pokemon allows for all of this. /10
Your collection of beasts is not just an ornament. You can cattle them against other collectors, boosting their stats and opening up whole new avenues of collecting. Your collection *means something*. /11
But that's not all! Pokemon was an early example of the 'grinding' gaming mechanic (not as exciting as it sounds). And in my limited experience, #autistic people love grinding on video games! (sounds wrong, sorry) /12
Grinding is where you perform the same basic task over and over to receive small but gradually substantial rewards. Mobile games swear by it, but Pokemon did it right. If you so desired, you could make your Charmander fight little battles against pigeons over and over. /13
Doing so netted experience points, which levelled up your firelizard, making him stronger, tougher, faster, fieryer. It took AGES but with enough determination you could have a level 50 Charizard before you fought the first boss. And #autistic people can be very patient /14
The comfort and peace of doing the same easy task over and over, knowing there was a good reason to do so, is incredibly relaxing and was a great way for me to Zone out of my addled #autistic brain for a while. Much like building Lego does, too. /15
I always felt, when playing my favourite video games, that I was afraid to reach thd end, as then my escape from reality would be over. This was a huge problem for me with games like Sonic the Hedgehog. But in Pokemon, you could spread it out for ages and ages. /16
Pokemon is also about a person relating primarily with animals. There are no significant human friendships in the original games (something altered in the cartoon) apart from the mentor Professor Oak. Instead, you bond with your Pokemon. This is good for #autistic folk /17
#autistic people can make up for the struggle of human interaction by being very close with animals. It's not always the case, but a large number of us absolutely adore animals and nature - @ChrisGPackham and @NaturalistDara are two high profile examples of this. /18
So a game about looking after and collecting animals who you become extremely fond of is right up our alley. The fact you go around fighting them like bear baiting is less good, and I'm sure a bit of a problem fof some, but this angle was tempered by the mechanic. /19
You see, Pokemon couldn't die. It's unclear whether they could even be hurt or injured in any way. Instead they simply fainted when they'd been hit by enough fire to destroy a city or enough rocks to build a mountain. This was OK. As an #autistic person, this was fine. /20
There are other reasons why #pokemon and #autism fit together so nicely - the mathematics at its core, the safety of a fairly closed open world map, the hidden strategic depth, but goodness me I'm tired and hungry so I shall stop there. /21
Part 2 of my work related #autism thread will be tonight. /end
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