children about Pokémon?
who currently has anything to do with children will certainly
have come across them, the "pocket monsters". Pokémon
is at present the most popular series among the 6- to 13-year-old
boys and girls. The programme on RTL 2 scores top viewing
ratings, the Gameboy games are found everywhere and school
playgrounds at times resemble a bazaar for Pokémon
trading cards. There are not a few teachers who would like
the children to be able to learn irregular words just as quickly
as they can say "Bulbasaur – Ivysaur– Venussaur" or "Charmander
– Cone – Charizard". Pokémania has proliferated.
rates for Pokémon
to first categorise the use quantitatively here is a GfK ratings
data sheet for Germany. In the first half of 2000 over one
million watched the programme that was transmitted at 2.45pm
every day. The age structure, ie the age groups over which
the viewers are distributed, shows that it is chiefly children
who watch the programme. Pokémon appeals to
boys and girls, rather more boys watching it.
share, ie the figure that indicates what percentage of the
respective age groups had their television sets switched on
for this programme, indicates the enormous success of the
programme, especially in the group of the 6-9-year-olds. (AGF/GfK
PC#TV; IP Deutschland)
is it that fascinates children about the pocket monsters?
In group discussions and morning circle conversations with
392 primary school children (March and May 2000) this was
one of the questions that was looked into. Below the results
are briefly summarised.
principal motive: A boy experiences adventures with his animal
and human friends
the principal motive: a 10-year-old boy and his best friends
enter a world and experience adventures with their little
"monsters". On their journey they meet many different Pokémon
and learn how they have to be cared for and trained.
in front of the television set or their Gameboy learn together
with Ash, the hero, as it were and knowledge can be fun. Within
a very short time they know the names and various developments
- and not only school boys and girls who are good pupils manage
to do this. Otherwise less successful children in particular
can shine and prove themselves with their special knowledge.
Pokémon cannot offer much help for coping with
everyday problems or knowledge of and understanding for a
world that is becoming increasingly complex. If it does, then
it tends to promote the children in areas of consideration
and friendship or calls for a certain strategic way of thinking.
creatures that have to be taken seriously but can be controlled
with many character features
is a fantasy world with the Pokémon figures
at its centre. There are many different ones, something for
undeveloped form the many monsters are a good half a metre
tall, like a fairly large dog or E.T. It is a size that has
to be taken seriously, but which nevertheless children can
still control. Once they have been caught, the Pokémon
are the most loyal friends that have to be looked after and
which stand in and also fight for you.
motive is already to be found in classic children's television,
for example, in the case of Lassie, Flipper or
Fury. Animals are the most reliable friends. They multiply
their own potential, thus creating room for fantasies of size
and giving them the feeling of being loved and needed.
A children's world – without
is particularly important in the case of Pokémon
is that it is a children's world. Adults only appear on its
fringe, since children solve the problems alone. This opens
up fantasies and offers the children a world into which they
can direct their thoughts.
course, it is opportune that Pokémon offers
a whole media and events arrangement. There are not only the
usual merchandising articles on the series, but more importantly
the trading cards and Gameboy games, and Pokémon
is also to be found on the internet. In addition there are
organised events, such as the German Championship, which took
place in Munich on 4th September 2000.
creates occasion for communication and swapping scenarios
in the peer group
of different products naturally creates chances of interaction.
Pokémon is not merely a subject of conversation,
it can also be swapped, and the tricks for the new Gameboy
edition are welcome everywhere.
offers a whole world, a world with which a lot of money is
all of them
is, of course, the principal intention behind it all. What
has always been successful with children and implemented in
history and the media arrangement is adopted. In particular
the collecting mania of children is exploited, since collecting
is an important way of appropriating the world for primary
school girls. There is nothing new in that; earlier on it
was wafers or colourful pieces of broken glass. The difference
between pieces of broken glass and Pokémon is
the money they cost, and in the case of Pokémon
it is quite a lot more.
and possession is necessary and obligatory in the peer group
that Pokémania has assumed are resulting in pressure
on children and parents alike that should not be underestimated.
it is not just a matter of enhancing their image with knowledge,
but in the meantime it has become a question of anyone who
does not know all about Pokémon or is not even
interested in them losing respect, and that calls for a high
degree of self-esteem.
on the parents is especially strong, since it is they who
have to finance this passion for collecting. The proportionality
of little presents is very quickly lost. It becomes extremely
difficult, of course, for families who simply do not have
this kind of money.
is not over-demanding as far as content is concerned (cf Flimmo).
But nor does it offer many perspectives or much support. It
is a perfectly constructed arrangement built up around a theme:
the Pokémon. In the feature film the 151st
figure followed the first 150, and shortly another 99 are
to be added to these, so that there is always something new
to buy. The follow-up product Digimon, which is meant
to increase and secure the success to date, is already being
of Pokémon shows, on the one hand, how much
children enjoy these fantasy worlds, worlds full of mythical
creatures that are to be taken seriously but are controllable,
worlds to which adults really have no access. But above all
Pokémon shows how deliberately a trend is set,
a trend which simply wants to turn children into customers.
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Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television (IZI)