Pokemon4Japan – And Happy Birthday to Alice.
After 4 days of Pokemon playing and fundraising, we get some answers from 4 of the organisers (Alice, Kelly, Josh and Ben) of the Pokemon4Japan charity Pokemon marathon, who have so far raised £3,284.28, that’s £3787.64 including Gift Aid, for the British Red Cross’ Tsunami Relief Fund.
(Pokemon4Japan can be found at http://www.pokemon4life.co.uk/ , as @Pokemon4Japan on Twitter and as Pokemon4Japan on Facebook)
It’s 11.57am when I start writing this blog. I’ve had 3 hours sleep. My breakfast consists of Wotsits and Lucozade, and the Pokemon battle music is slowly burning itself into my subconscious mind. I’ve even been dreaming of Pokemon.
It all started at around 8pm on Tuesday. I’d seen the advertisements, and decided to stumble into the “Pokemon4Life” chat room…I was welcomed with a Pokemon Red team that rivalled the Mystery Men in terms of bizarreness (and skill), a Moltres caught with a Magikarp, and a cult worshipping an ice-punching Clefable named “Hammy”.
What on Earth? Are these players sane?!? It reassured me to find that they were. NONE of these decisions had been made by the players of the game, in fact the Pokemon squad is chosen by which 6 Pokemon receive the highest donations. Donations are also made to name Pokemon, evolve pokemon, and determine which moves to learn…Not to mention the exciting “Special Challenges” that some people have donated for.
It was this interactive audience that proved to be the hook of the Pokemon4Japan campaign. After initial apathy, I found myself donating £5 for a Clefable to learn Flash (Troll.), and further donations to ensure “Hammy” remained in the line up. I wasn’t the only one. Donations flew in left right and centre including £10 to name Mewtwo “Snuggles” at 4am BST.
The Pokemon4Japan team have been playing solidly since 7pm BST on Monday 11th, and have so far played Pokemon Red, Crystal and Yellow, scheduling to finish at 7pm today (Friday 15th) with a question and answer session on their live stream.
I asked the team for some of their thoughts on the marathon so far:
Q: What has surprised you most about the challenge so far?
A: The amount we’ve raised has been a phenomenal shock to us, we’d expected to get to day two and have to stop through lack of funds.
Q: What’s the most bizarre request you’ve had to honour?
A: We found the more odd physical tasks like the denial of tea, sandwich making and eating fish custard the most bizarre, however, we’ve had some pretty damn bizarre requests throughout.
Q: Are there any points in the game where you felt under pressure to deliver for the donators?
A: Yes. The legendaries usually had a lot of money behind them so we felt that we couldn’t disappoint on them. If you recall your own experience of catching them, and imagine doing it with a no reset rule and a hundred pounds resting on the catch, it’s a scary situation to be in. The fact our Magikarp Zeus God Of Splash managed to catch all of the Red legendaries really bumped up the pressure!
Q: Is there any pokemon whose popularity has surprised you?
A: A lot of Pokemon’s popularity surprised us. We didn’t expect such a following for individual Pokemon like this. There have been a few in particular which have really built up a following; Hammy, a Clefairy which has gotten its own groups and mock prayers online is probably our more popular Pokemon. We also have other factions of fans that support specific Pokemon like Zeus, a magical Magikarp and Babydoll, a powerful Gyrados.
Q: Which pokemon has received the largest donation?
A: The Moltres had the highest single donation of £100 but overall there has been an overwhelming response to Hammy who spanned all three games and racked up a whopping £157.52.
Q: Are there any pokemon that you’ve developed a liking to through the marathon?
A: Alice: ZEUS GOD OF SPLASH !!!!11!!!1!
Josh: Zeus God Of Spash (He likes Magikarps)
Kelly: I’m personally a Hammy fan.
Ben: Since I was forced to personally train Zeus I developed a Love-Hate relationship with him, but my choice must go to Hammy as the fan art and cult following has been nothing short of epic.
Q: Are there any pokemon that you’ve developed a disliking to throughout the marathon?
A: Josh: Caterpie (Yellow)
Alice: All steel pokemon (I mean wtf are they anyway?) Oh, and Gastlys.
Kelly: Zeekrom the Caterpie, Steevie the eevee. They should burn in very, very hot flames.
Ben: I have developed a raging hatred for Bellsprout. Wrap, poison, wrap, sleep, poison, wrap, wrap, wrap, ARRRRHHHGGG
Q: How do you plan on developing this idea for future events?
A: We have quite a lot of ideas for the future events that we will be doing, however, we want to keep our cards close to our chest right now. Though we can reveal that we’re planning to do simultaneous games that would then interact.
Q: What are you planning on doing after the Q&A tonight?
…I think we all intend to follow suit there.
Pokemon4Japan is a success that has even surprised its organizers. But then again, Pokemon is a guilty pleasure of all right-minded gamers, with the interaction making it feel like one big group game, building a friendly community of followers in only 4 days.
The appeal is probably summed up best by Liam from Hooked Gamers, who travelled to interview the team on Wednesday night, only to find followers demanding he play the game, keeping him in the room until 6am!
As one of the Pokemon4Japan team mentioned, “If it wasn’t for Japan, my childhood would be completely different. I wouldn’t have played Pokemon. I wouldn’t have had a game boy. I wouldn’t have had a Playstation…”
Perhaps we sometimes take Japan’s contribution to our lives for granted, but it is both inspirational and humbling that a group of 19 year olds have united gamers from across fandoms to support a noble cause. Thanks for everything Pokemon4Japan! (And thanks for helping rediscover my childhood!)
Some highlights from the marathon so far:
CHALLENGE!: Take on Brock using ONLY Pikachu. Just like the anime… :
Happy Birthday Alice! – It’s Alice’s birthday today (15th April), and she was gifted a birthday Zubat! :
We ALL love Joey and his Ratata! Did you know, his Ratata is in the top percentage of all Ratatas?
Of course some people take Pokemon fandom too far…
For more pictures and videos, check out the Pokemon4Japan Facebook page!