While playing Pokemon may be a childhood memory for many, one club is keeping the past fad alive. PokeTech, a Virginia Tech student organization, meets weekly to engage in all things Pokemon.
Alex Sanyer, a junior English major and the PokeTech club president, founded the organization his freshman year with the help of two friends. The club has continued to grow ever since.
“There are about 12 people at any given meeting, but about 100 members in our Facebook group,” Sanyer said.
During club meetings, members gather to compete in the classic trading card game, as well as the Pokemon video game. However, every so often, PokeTech holds a tournament.
“People will either bring in their cards or buy cards to construct a deck (for a tournament), or people will bring in their video game and we will make a tournament using that,” Sanyer said.
PokeTech has also played against other colleges through the online video game. Sanyer said the club has competed against colleges such as Penn State, George Washington University, University of Texas and Grinnell College.
“We play against other clubs weekly, and eventually we will go to a championship game (as a part of an intercollegiate league),” Sanyer said.
Morgan Sebestin, a freshman computer science major and PokeTech member, said the club also holds drafts, which are similar to tournaments. Members bring in packs of cards and pass the decks around, allowing each member to take one card.
“It’s kind of like a roulette of card games,” Sebestin said, “I’m collecting my cards through the drafts.”
Sanyer, whose favorite Pokemon are Epseon and Letios, said it is not hard to learn how to play Pokemon.
“It’s like most other card games where you play it once and you kind of know the basics,” Sanyer said.
A tip for being a good player in both the card and video game, Sanyer said, is to study up on Pokemon characters. It is important for players to figure out what works against other Pokemon and learn their strengths and weaknesses.
“It helps to watch other people and learn what to do in certain situations of the game,” Sanyer said. “It also helps to have good cards when playing the card game.”
Sanyer has always been a huge Pokemon fan. He has been following the franchise since it launched in 1996.
“I watched the anime TV show at first, and then I wanted to do everything else related to Pokemon,” Sanyer said. “I begged my parents to get me the game.”
Pokemon is a family affair for Sanyer — his dad and brother are both avid Pokemon enthusiasts.
“My dad actually judges Pokemon tournaments,” Sanyer said, “My brother still plays and has been to the world championship multiple times.”
Sebestin, whose favorite Pokemon is Charizard, played the game as a kid, but is just now getting back into it. Like many, he stopped playing during middle school. However, he does not think the trend ever completely faded out.
“I don’t think it ever really went away. But the nostalgia value for people our age is pretty big,” Sebestin said. “Everyone had (the cards) growing up.”
Most people don’t realize that Pokemon is still very active, he said. In fact, Pokemon is still coming out with new games and characters. Sebestin and Sanyer agree that Pokemon, as well as the players’ understanding of the game, are constantly evolving.
“For me, it’s more of getting deeper into the mechanical roots of Pokemon. I didn’t realize how much strategy went into it. Beyond the rock, paper, scissors of it all, there’s a lot going on,” Sanyer said.
Sebestin said the game is surprisingly deep and complicated. The ultimate goal of PokeTech is to make competitive Pokemon more popular in the New River Valley.
“Most people are amazed to hear that there is a Pokemon club on campus,” Sanyer said.
PokeTech, which meets Saturdays at 8 p.m. in Squires Student Center Room 145, is open to new members.
“PokeTech is just about having a good time, playing a game you love and meeting new people who share that interest,” Sanyer said.