The Kutztown Community Library is home to a weekly event that is tons of fun: Pokémon League. At first glance, it seems like the players are locked in a battle of strange, brightly-colored cards. In reality, the game is made up of cunning strategies and quick wit.
A more pressing question might be: what is Pokémon?
Pokémon, short for Pocket Monsters, is a massively popular franchise from Japan that was created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996. Pokémon themselves are fictional creatures influenced by a range of animals and objects in real life or those from legends and myths.
The Pokémon Trading Card Game is not just for those who already know about the game. It’s also for anyone who has burgeoning interest to join the community. Local children, teens, and young adults sit down to play together and dish out damage among their cards. If they do not have cards, decks will be provided.
Originally founded by Greg Setliff, the League is overseen by a Kutztown University student, Zach Herring, and his fellow hosts, Jamie Dotterer and Emily Riegel. Herring, a Special Education Math major, relishes the chance to see everyone who enjoys the game come out. Though the Pokémon League is not an officially registered league with the Pokémon Company, it is a way to casually participate in the game for those near Kutztown.
“The main goal of it is to welcome new players and create a community,” said Herring. “That’s something worthwhile.”
Players use cards with pictures of Pokémon on them. In battle, they must use knowledge of the appropriate cards to defeat the opponent’s Pokémon. Matches can last an hour or longer if the battle is fierce.
However, it’s more than just a game; it is a source of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), introducing a mathematics portion in determining the results of certain choices during play. The educational merit is also found in the critical thinking required to make decisions about what would be the most advantageous to clinch the win.
“It’s a game of luck, but the goal is to minimize the random outcomes,” said Herring. “You have to calculate damage and pay attention to multipliers, all while counting on the probability of whether the right cards will show up as you draw or not.”
NASA even created an educational series to go along with the game. According to a webpage from 2005 archived by NASA, “the real science behind the fun of the Pokémon Trading Card Game” was offered through worksheets where NASA explains how they study air, water, and land.
The Pokémon League meets every Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Kutztown Community Library at 70 Bieber Alley.