Pokemon International Company / Liam Martin

Why Pokemon Does Not Portray Animal Cruelty

Holly Richardson
Jul 11, 2018 · 7 min read

PETA Launches Its Attack on the Pokemon Franchise

Two roosters are placed in the middle of a ring, surrounded by a jeering crowd. Tension fills the air. It is a fight to the death. Bets are placed on either animal. Prior to the battle the roosters are agitated. Their beaks are pulled at and their feathers are plucked. The one that loses never has their injuries treated, and more often than not is thrown away in the trash preceding the fight. This is cockfighting, a violent blood sport.

Sports Vice / Amshudhagar

Some allegations voiced by PETA, parents, and other scholars, press upon the Pokemon franchise claiming that it is responsible for the portrayal and subsequent desensitization towards animal cruelty, indicating that Pokemon battles parallel to cockfighting. But does this description of cockfighting match what the creature friendly world Pokemon represents?

PETA believes so, and buzzes, “…Next time you’re about to capture a wild Pokémon, pause and think, “What can I do to help animals who are being held captive?” These claims fail to realize that the intentions of the ​Pokemon​ company reveal battles are a partnership between Pokemon and trainer.

A Violent Video Gaming Industry

With the surrounding world becoming progressively more violent, and as technology swells in prevalence, the video gaming industry consistently receives claims over the exposure of violence and portrayal of it in games. This time the scandal surrounding video game violence resurfaces with attention turning to ​​Pokemon​. The thriving​ franchise has created video games, a popular mobile app, and television show, gathering a substantial fan basis. However, recently PETA’s attacks the company for depictions of animal cruelty within ​Pokemon’​s media. PETA claims that catching, training, and battling Pokemon closely relates to cockfighting. Interesting.

PETA throws Pokemon into the spotlight claiming that they have reason to believe the company displays animal abuse, and thus causes desensitization to it. Ironically, however, “Many PETA staffers grew up playing Pokémon and are impressed by the Pokémon Go phenomenon.” said Sean Horvath, PETA media editor, “We saw this as a teachable moment for how people should treat real animals.” If PETA employees grew up playing Pokemon, why attack the beloved franchise? This only succeeds in making PETA’s argument seem more crass.

PETA / Sean Horvath

Animal activist researchers argue that catching, training, and battling Pokémon does not deviate greatly from removing animals from their habitat and placing them into captivity for exploitation. Yet, animal researchers are failing to see that Pokeballs in Pokemon’s media have always received the commentary of comfortable for the creature, not confining. Animal activists and anti video game violence affiliates fear not, there’s not only one type of Pokeball — there are multiple — and even one containing the name of, “Luxury Ball”, which’s general description in Pokemon games is a Pokeball that steadily increases the friendship of the Pokemon inhabiting it.

Held in captivity? How about held in a five star regal hotel, without fees! Now that’s what I call animal liberation.

Nerdist.com / Kyle Hill

Pokemon Black and Blue

Pokemon Black and Blue, a simulation of a Pokemon game created by PETA, attacks the franchise far too brutally. Inside of Pokemon Black and Blue the player is informed that people in the Pokemon world have began believing that the creatures existed to be used and abused, and that one Pokemon decided to revolt against this cycle. Within the game the gamer plays as Pikachu, a runaway Pokemon, and fights trainers who have abused their Pokemon, gathering those who want to join the revolution for Pokemon Freedom.

Nerdist.com / Sam Loveridge

Also, the game proposes Pokemon trainers are no more than glorified animal abusers.​ ​However, in the world of ​Pokemon​, trainers can not coerce their partners, and are expected to withhold themselves​ to a degree of morality. Those who decide to force Pokemon into battle in the media are condemned. So, the​ Pokemon​ company can not​ be held responsible for portraying animal cruelty, as it​ t​eaches players that Pokémon and humans are equal alike, and more importantly conveys that creatures deserve the same respect we do.

Profound Video Game Usages

Usages for video games no longer solely include entertainment. With applications like therapeutic measures, ​improving coordination, and visual adroitness video games promote a sort of personal wellness. The assertion that​ Pokemon​ media employs desensitization to animal cruelty fails to see that Pokemon franchise has consistently been aware of personal wellness, especially in its creation Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go’s​ utilization was intended for people to explore the world and exercise, but PETA still attempts to advertise that Pokemon is responsible for the portrayal and desensitization to animal cruelty and even resorts to making their office location a “​Pokémon Go dead zone” reveals Rachel Carpenter, a psychology undergraduate student. I knew all along that the Pokemon company was up to no good, thank you PETA for revealing the franchise’s true motives.

Pokemon Promotes Animal Friendships

To contrast with PETA’s accusations on the company’s intentions, researchers Kogan, L., Hellyer, P., Duncan, C., & Schoenfeld-Tacher, R. find that while ​conducting studies on ​Pokemon Go ​players​, the gamers become more sociable, with the game even having positive effect on a their anxiety. ​Pokemon Go not only acts as a physical benefit, but a mental health benefit as well. In an analyzation’s regarding ​​Pokémon Go’s affect on dog owners examining physical and mental health find that P​​okémon Go while walking a dog increases social connection and improves physical health, deepends bonds with one’s dog.

Pokemon Battles and Cockfight Correlation

Amidst​ Pokemon ​gamers, the stance that ​Pokemon equates to animal cruelty gets disregarded quickly, as the battles clearly do not act as counterparts to cockfights. In consideration, “The premises of ​Pokemon” relays Matthew Patrick, popular youtuber better known as The Game Theorist, “​was based on Japanese rhinoceros beetle battling”. Beetle Battling was a favorite pastime of Satoshi Tajiri, founder of Pokemon.

Snapthrifty.com / Frank Inglese

Unlike cockfighting, Pokemon battles are void of long lasting damage on the creatures. However, I will admit that Pokemon are given very savage names dissimilar to cockfights that make the media more frightening like Jigglypuff, Magikarp, Pikachu, and Mr. Mime — this could intimidate anyone really. More importantly though, Pokemon battles seem to parallel closely to beetle battling as beetles will fight on a log, locking their horns until one pushes the other off not causing blood shed or significant long term damage.​ ​Far more violent video games and animal abusive media than ​Pokemon​ lie out there, yet, PETA still maintains that they have reason to believe​ Pokemon ​conveys animal abuse and causes desensitization to acts of it.

Pokemon Does Not Display Animal Cruelty

The claim that ​Pokemon​ can be held responsible for the portrayal of animal cruelty distorts the meaning of the franchise. This wrong interpretation illustrates the ​Pokemon​ world in a state of dystopia, whereas in actuality the ​Pokemon​ world’s core revolves around human and Pokémon togetherness.

Although PETA’s fight against Pokemon proves futile, the message that they are trying to send still comes in loud as it draws attention that violence in video games is something to contemplate as young children and those afflicted with mental health issues are more vulnerable and readily impacted by violent images. However PETA’s claim that ​Pokemon​ media desensitizes players to animal cruelty is preposterous, because in reality the company represents animal compassion.


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Carpenter, Rachel. (2018, April). ​Pokémon Go as a Positive Virtual Reality Game: Promoting Cognitive, Affective, and Empathic Benefits. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.unf.edu/etd/794

Ewalt, David M. (2012, October 8). ​Animal Rights Group Attacks Pokémon For Promoting Animal Abuse. By: Forbes.com. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidewalt/2012/10/08/peta-pokemon-animal-abuse/

Hill, K. (2015, July 07). How Does a Pokeball Actually Work? Retrieved from https://nerdist.com/how-does-a-pokeball-actually-work/

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Rossignol, D. (2017, October 05). POKÉMON THE MOVIE Trailer Unites Ash and Pikachu with Tons of Legendary Pokémon. Retrieved from https://nerdist.com/pokemon-the-movie-i-choose-you-trailer-legendary-pokemon/

Zarley, B. D. (2015, March 11). On the Edge of the Pit: Cockfighting in America. Retrieved from https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/vvakn9/on-the-edge-of-the-pit-cockfighting-in-america

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Holly Richardson

Written by

Holly Richardson is a college student at the University of Nevada, Reno studying Kinesiology. They wrote this piece for a writing course.

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