My first job was at Toys R Us. I worked there in 1997, 1998, 1999 during the height of the first Pokemon craze. I was a bit older than the target Pokemon's target audience, but I bought the game anyway and got into it pretty hard core. The thought was that I could take a little pressure off the parents when they brought their kid into the store and the kid and I could get lost speaking this foreign language. Plus, the parents loved me because I saved gobs of money by pointing out that Red and Blue were the same game but only had a few different critters. It was fun.
When I eventually got my job at FuncoLand, people would come in and trade away their Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow games. I would often sit there on my breaks, trading critters back and forth completing my own, original pokedex on my Pokemon Red. I got up to 148 of the 151 critters. I even got a legally-obtained Mew that was given out at a Toys R Us tournament at some point.
Now Oliver has gotten into Pokemon. Through some magic Japanese drug, mixed with an amount of design philosophy that tickles everyone's inner Asperger's, and a healthy amount of psychological manipulation, the property is still popular and they haven't run out of colors to name games. In our household we start our obsessions at the ground level and work up to modern day, so I picked up a few new Red, Blue, and Yellow cartridges from the late 90s for he and I to reboot and advance through the story together. I sure as heck weren't going to reboot my original game I started in 1997.
Then Oliver discovered the cartoon on Netflix. I've always hated the sensibilities of Japanese animation, so this has been painful because I won't let him watch it without me sitting next to him, and he can't marathon it because I've watched this stuff just climb into kids' brains--and it's dated and it unintentionally teaches some old-school gender role stuff rolled in with the usual Anime's unhealthy tendency to sexualize young girls. So it's a lot of work for me. BUT.
We just watched this episode. The bad guys, Team Rocket, had taken over a Pokemon beauty salon. Their cat sidekick, who is arguably the leader, says they'll take the ugly pokemon of these rich trainers, slap a little makeup on them, and laugh all the way to the bank with their money. When someone walks through the door with a rare pokemon, they'll just steal it!
I realized that sounded a lot like what I was doing back at Funcoland. Kids would come into the store, and we'd buy their old Pokemon game for dirt cheap, often with hundreds of hours of work put into it, and I'd sit there, on break, and trade the rare Pokemon critters on to my system. And then I'd sell the drained and rebooted cartridges to the next excited child.
I am Team Rocket -- blasting off again.