Violence: The Pokémon video games generally revolve around the defeat of other Pokémon to gain experience points and subsequently level up. In these battles, the object is not death— the opponent is merely rendered unconscious, known as KO (or knock-out). Pokémon cannot die and are revived with either items or the help of Pokémon hospitals known as Pokémon Centers. The playable character does perhaps get into some mischief with the enemies who are trying to take over the world, but all violence is tempered to be suitable for children, such as mild electrocution or equivalent comic violence.
Gambling: It is possible to gamble in these games, usually just by playing slots—prizes may be won and it is possible to spend a lot of in-game money on these machines.
Sex: In later incarnations, breeding of Pokémon is possible. There is no sex shown, but it is clear that a simple knowledge of how breeding works must be present.
Here are a few ideas for engaging with your kids around Pokémon:
- Compare the Pokémon to any family pets you might have and ask them how they think pets would like to be treated. A lot of the newer games include gauges of how loved your Pokémon feel when you use them. Encourage them to keep those scores up.
- Use the training and leveling up mechanics in Pokémon to discuss why it’s important to work hard to get better at something or to get something you want. You can explain that when you’re faced with a challenge, you can think about overcoming hardships and leveling up, much like your Pokémon do. You can also point out that your kids will be come stronger and smarter as well as grow up physically.
- Talk about the complexities of feelings around winning. Lots of Pokémon depends on your ability to win and defeat challengers. Talk to your kids about how it feels to lose and help them understand that while winning is important, not everything needs to revolve around being the greatest. Sometimes having happy Pokémon and a team you love is more important.
Other terms to know include:
- Pokeball—the small orb in which Pokémon are captured and stored
- Badges—medals earned by defeating gyms
- Gyms—arenas for battle that must be defeated in order to advance the game
- Pokémon Center—a place to heal, store, and care for your Pokémon
- Elite—the elite Pokémon trainers (numbers vary—also known as “The Elite Four”)
- Evolving—the process of reaching certain levels to become stronger and look different