15/07/2016

4 Reasons Kids Love Pokemon and Learn From Them

We were all once kids. Depending on the generation you were from, you may have played some collectible character type of games. Perhaps you used to play Tamagotchi, Digimon, or Pokemon. Or maybe you were born in the era before technology boomed, and you raised REAL pets! (some of us still do today, of course) Whichever it was, we felt strong bonds to the little creatures who a little part of our worlds revolved around.

Indeed, many fans remember most of the 721 different Pokemon. Some others can even remember their combat statistics by heart! Why are Pokemon more special to players than, say, scientific facts? Even though knowing how Newton’s Third Law works is more useful in the real world than knowing which moves a “Charizard" learns up to level 77! Now imagine kids being into an educational game with collectible characters like Pokemon that teaches scientific facts - wouldn't you want that?

As an educational game that had our Petticles likened to Pokemon twice before, we had to ask ourselves at some point: how does creating cute collectible characters make a great gaming experience for players? Here are the four reasons we realized.

 

Choices

Players agonized over picking their starter Pokemon, and still do with each new release. Many players take much time and effort to name their character, their Pokemon, and even their rival.

On every leg of your Pokemon adventure, you’re given many choices to make along the way. Your first companion, building your Pokemon repertoire, choosing which side quests to do first before continuing the main story… Maybe you liked overcoming challenges your way. Remember the times you traversed caves in the dark? We do!

Choice creates attachment. And when the journey is about your choices, it sticks close to your heart.

To create a similar level of dynamism, we created Petticle combos with unique effects to suit various playstyles: defensive, offensive, and everything in between. When players feel a sense of agency, they are drawn into the game, because it says: “you can choose who you want to be”. This teaches players to plan for future goals and think about consequences.

 

Companionship

Your Pokemon are your companions throughout the game; through multitudes of battles, gym challenges, legendary encounters, and much more.

But what’s so special about virtual collectible characters you can’t touch and hold? They grow as you pour your heart into them. They grow stronger, and change form, as if signifying a milestone on your journey. You wouldn’t get the same affection as from a live pet, but Pokemon responded through the game mechanics; it mattered whether or not you took good care of them. In one battle mode, you need to understand your Pokemon’s personality (the Nature mechanic) and plan your battle strategy. We think it’s an ingenious way of fostering compassion towards other creatures, something not many games prioritize in their design.

 

Collectibles & Completion

One of the game’s big objectives was to complete the Pokedex - to Catch Them All. You had to look up their habitats to chase each type of Pokemon down, and trade with friends for those who were version exclusive. Now it’s not just a game, it’s a long-term goal for players to strive for in their spare time. Combining that with the ability to battle competitively and cooperatively, it’s also a multi-dimensional medium to connect with friends, and make new ones.

Now, we’ve mentioned tangential learning (or implicit learning) before, and Pokemon are well designed for just that. Each character and attack reflects something that exists in reality, like Bellsprout above is based off pitcher plants. It’s an entire world of knowledge that’s been simplified to a form even children understand - cute characters with stunning visuals.

 

Combat Tactics

Ever discovered a way to take out much stronger opponents with underleveled Pokemon? Combining and executing tactics with their team is a joy for players who enjoy strategy. You couldn’t just dump 3 Fire moves on your Fire Pokemon and take on other trainers. You needed to plan ahead for Type advantages and disadvantages, make sure your team covers each other's’ weaknesses - and that’s just the beginning.

Some of us who love delving into game mechanics even spend days training Effort Values (EVs) and breeding Individual Values (IVs) to create not just a powerful team, but one performing at full potential of the game’s confines.

Pokemon is that educational game which appeals on multiple levels to people of various ages, having the charm for the children, and the depth for the serious players, all with life lessons to go with them. There are so many Pokemon to choose from to form teams, and a whole competitive scene is thriving on battle simulators online.

What everyone loves about cute collectible characters varies by the individual. As beginner educational game developers, we’re always looking at the games we play and learning from them. Pokemon was one of them, and the Petticles of ChemCaper were inspired by just that. Creating collectible characters out of real life molecules is our effort towards introducing Chemistry to kids as fun, just like Pokemon did with so many parts of our world, fictional and otherwise.

 

Thank you for reading this post! If you’d like be part of our journey in Reinventing Education for kids and adults alike, you can download ChemCaper right here. And if you’d like to keep up with us, check out our Facebook page, website, and blog.