RandomAccess asks:

I thought about Pokémon ethics and something occurred to me, Pokémon are dangerous. Of course humans use devices to contain them, it’s the one way we can survive in that hostile world, where there are creatures that can destroy you mind, body, and even soul. The fact that they become tame after capture despite obviously still having free will is incredibly lucky on our part, and shows it’s mutually beneficial, because if they wanted to, they’d destroy us and be rid of us, and we couldn’t stop it

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Anonymous asks:

Can you PLEASE talk about why Pokemon aren’t slaves? I’m tired of that being thrown at Pokemon as an insult.

You probably want to start here – my “Ethics of Pokémon Training” is by a fair margin the most popular thing I’ve ever written.  I essentially try to argue here that the act of catching a Pokémon represents a sort of ritualised contract that is made between a Pokémon and a trainer, and that this contract can be broken by either party.  You can also read this, where I compare Pokémon to professional gladiators and Greek teachers and doctors under the Roman Empire, who were technically slaves but in some cases got a pretty good deal out of it.  See also here, here and here.

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How do you think Pokemon breed?

…hoooooo boy.

So I wrote this thing about it once upon a time, and I think the big takeaway from it should be not so much anything I actually said, but that we know so little, and what we do know makes such little sense, that you can pretty much say just about anything and have it be on some level justifiable.  Game Freak has always been quite insistent in telling us that there’s an awful lot about Pokémon reproduction that no-one knows at all.  Back in the original Gold and Silver, a Pokémon egg was supposedly a major discovery because before then, no-one actually knew for sure that Pokémon hatched from eggs, which sort of makes you wonder how Pokémon ranchers and the like ever managed to do their jobs.  Then in X and Y, sensing that we foolishly thought we knew what we were talking about, Game Freak decided to remind us that we don’t know a damn thing by telling us that Pokémon eggs aren’t really eggs.  At this point you could tell me that Pokémon come from spontaneous generation and I wouldn’t quite be willing to rule it out (I mean, I’m also on the record as suggesting – only half-jokingly – that Pokémon originally evolved from rocks, so it’s not like I’ve got a whole lot of credibility to protect here).

VikingBoyBilly asks:

I’ve been listening to all the NPCs in Kalos out of boredom and noticed some weird things. One of them says the Beauty and the Beast story is about a prince that turned into a pokémon, and there’s a portrait of AZ that supposedly had to have been made 3000 years ago; which is a renaissance-style painting. Did GF realize how anachronistic that is for a time when portraits were done on Greek pottery and Egyptian bedrock murals?

Okay so there’s sort of two parts to this question – do we expect developments in the history of art and technology in the Pokémon world to mirror those of the real world, and exactly how much do you know about ancient portraiture?

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thephilosophicalsheep asks:

About the evolutionary stone thing, wouldn’t it make sense that pokemon were once able to naturally evolve into their “stone evolutions” simply because the world was brimming with primal energy?

Not quite sure which “evolutionary stone thing” we’re talking about, but it makes sense given some of the things that I like to believe, namely:

1) In the “Primal Age” described by Zinnia in Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, the boundless life energy that allowed Groudon and Kyogre to achieve their Primal forms may have had similar effects for other Pokémon, and this may be where Mega Evolution and perhaps the giant Pokémon in The Ancient Puzzle of Pokémopolis come from.

2) Evolved forms that require evolutionary stones are vestigial, having disappeared from the natural world because they are no longer suited to changing environmental conditions – there could be a whole lot of species-specific explanations for this, or you could just attribute all of them to the waning life energy of the world after the end of the Primal Age.

It also fits rather nicely with the fact that, so far anyway, there are no Mega evolutions of Pokémon that have evolved using stones (except Gallade, but he needed one for symmetry).  This could still change in the future; I don’t think we have good reason to believe it’s a Rule, but as long as it stays true, I think we’re allowed to suspect that the two phenomena may be similar in other ways too.

The thing is, I don’t really have proof for either 1) or 2); 1) is just part of a lot of mad speculation I came up with while playing Alpha Sapphire for the first time as a result of being convinced that all our information was coming from incomplete and biased sources, while 2) is a consequence of trying to view Pokémon evolution in the light of how evolution works in the real world, which is dangerous territory at the best of times.  So I would like it if things worked that way, but I’m nervous about coming out and saying “yes, this is how it works.”  If that makes sense.

Godzillakiryu91 asks:

I don’t know if anyone’s asked you this, but how do you think the Dragon Type works, and why does it have the weaknesses it does?

Ehhhhhh… well, the thing is, I used to go by the description given by one of the trainers in the Blackthorn City Gym way back in Gold and Silver (‘cause, y’know, you’d expect Dragon Pokémon trainers to have some idea how Dragon-types work), and what they said was that Dragon Pokémon are “Pokémon that overflow with life energy,” or something like that.  Dratini’s assorted Pokédex entries have some similar lines.  So if you’re okay with some abstract “life force” being a real thing in the Pokémon world (which seems more or less fine), then we could understand Dragon-types as Pokémon who have access to a sort of internal “wellspring” of that power, granting them perks like long life and rapid healing.  This sort of fits generally with the holy status of dragons in East Asian mythology, the large number of legendary Dragon Pokémon with load-bearing positions in the Pokémon world’s cosmology, and whatever the hell the Dragon Force in the Victini and Reshiram/Zekrom movie is supposed to be.  Dragon-types’ attacks are strong against each other because Dragon attacks are among the only things that can directly attack that energy source and overwhelm it.  Steel-types resist Dragon attacks because, being partly mechanical, they are less reliant on life force than most other living things.  Ice attacks… honestly I’m unclear on this, but in the real world a lot of processes that are essential to life are slowed down by cold, so maybe in the Pokémon world life force itself can be slowed and congested by extreme cold?

The reason this suddenly becomes more complicated is that, as of X and Y, we now have Fairy-types, and Xerneas gives us fairly concrete reason to believe that it’s Fairy Pokémon who are most closely associated with life force, not Dragon Pokémon.  And you can maybe make some vague hand-wavey suggestions that get around that, like saying that Fairy Pokémon can manipulate and master life force while Dragon Pokémon can only tap into it by instinct, so that Fairy-types can block Dragon attacks effortlessly while also damaging the Dragons’ connection to the source of their power.  When I start to do that, though, I become worried that I’m just defending my own existing ideas rather than looking for the best possible explanation, and it also seems like Game Freak’s own ideas about what the Dragon type is have evolved since Gold and Silver – I mean, it’s hard to imagine Druddigon as holy, or having a special connection to some abstract life force.  So I don’t quite know.

batabid asks:

Could you talk a bit about Evolutionary Stones, particularly the more mysterious ones like the Dawn Stone (maybe relating it to your Pokémon Gender/Breeding theory?) and why the Nidos evolve with the Moon Stone

You know, I think I’ve been asked this before, ages ago; hold on a bit…

Yes, here it is; the second half of this question.

…wait, hang on.

That was YOU!  YOU’VE asked me this before!

Ah, whatever; it was nearly four years ago, I’m sure I have different and even more wildly speculative things to say about it now.

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Anonymous asks:

Homosexuality in the Pokemon series? maybe realationship between human characters or the life style of some species, how feasible is it?

I’m not totally sure what you’re getting at here – by “feasible” do you mean “would Game Freak get away with it?”  Because I imagine in Japan they would but in America it might be a bit of a tough sell, which is probably why we don’t see it in the anime (not that romantic relationships are a major theme of the Pokémon anime anyway).  As for the Pokémon themselves… well, pretty much the one thing we know is that you won’t get an egg from two Pokémon of the same gender, and that Attract never works on Pokémon of the same gender.  Since the only real constant in how the games talk about Pokémon breeding is that no-one actually seems to know much about how it works (not to mention the fact that some Pokémon species appear to be single-sex), that could mean just about anything.

Homosexuality is well-documented in many animal species in the real world, most famously giraffes (who, on average, actually seem to have more gay sex than straight sex), bonobos, penguins, and dolphins (who have been known to engage in – I swear I am not making this up – blowhole sex).  I think it’s reasonable to assume that the Pokémon world works like the real one unless stated otherwise, so homosexuality is probably just as common; it just gets totally lost in the obscuring fog that surrounds everything even remotely connected to Pokémon reproduction.

randomaccessmain asks:

In the Japanese version of Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, there’s a story that references that at one point in history, humans and Pokemon used to intermarry. And, well, we know what usually happens after marriage. Though given the fable-like nature of the Canalave stories, this probably doesn’t mean anything in terms of the game’s canon history, but it is something to think about.

It certainly is something to think about.  I think it would be extremely generous to regard these things as being remotely historical without some sort of corroboration (legends about, say, Dialga and Palkia we are compelled to give more credence because of our firsthand exposure to the power of those Pokémon; there’s nothing comparable for this story).  We are, after all, talking about what an ancient civilisation believed had happened in their ancient past, so that’s two levels of “ancient past” removed there.  Myths of humans marrying animals exist in the real world too and we don’t believe that that means it ever happened.  Practically every civilisation has myths of a primordial age when the “rules” were different in some way.  I think the existence of those myths says something about the people who told the stories (as all myth does), and the vagueness and offhandedness of what we’re told makes it difficult to say much of that kind.  However, I suspect what we’re looking at is an ancient culture that was built (much as the Pokémon world’s modern civilisation is, perhaps more so) around partnership between humans and Pokémon, and had a vested interest in portraying that partnership as equal, regardless of whether that was actually the case.

vikingboybilly asks:

How come some plants are pokémon, but most are not? Humans are the only known non-pokémon animal in existence (besides pokédex mentions of Indian elephants and stuff), so is there some kind of bias because the world’s environment and obstacles isn’t made out of meat?

I think probably because if all plants are Pokémon too then you begin to run dangerously short of things that are okay to eat.  Game Freak seems to be very uncomfortable with the idea that humans eat Pokémon, at least in the present day – hell, in recent years they even seem to have become uncomfortable with the idea that wild Pokémon eat each other.  When you ask them about it, they make reference to the huge variety of wondrous fruits and vegetables that exist in the Pokémon world.  I suspect if all the plants become sentient too then they run out of wriggle room.