The Powerful Psychology of Pokémon – UNCOVERED

The Powerful Psychology of Pokémon – UNCOVERED

Twenty-three years after it launched, we’re
still talking about Pokémon, and playing the video games that revolutionized the industry
and keep shaping new generations. The simple truth is that the Pokémon universe is extremely
appealing, almost hypnotic when you think about it. Moreover, dark moments from Pokémon’s
past suggest it can have a powerful psychological hold over us. What’s the secret behind Pokémon’s longevity? The innocent appeal of Pokémon can be traced
back to its creator, Satoshi Tajiri. Satoshi suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a milder
disorder on the autism spectrum, characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction
and nonverbal communication. He was deeply in love with video games, in which he could
find the comfort and confidence he couldn’t find in the real world. Asperger’s patients
tend to have restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. The common denominator
is usually categorization. For example, Tajiri’s favourite activity as a kid was collecting
insects. Pokémon’s famous tagline “Gotta catch ‘em all”, was an expression he used
as a kid. Ash Ketchum, the saga’s protagonist, is based on Tajiri as a child. In 1981, at only 17, when most of his peers
were leaving for college, he started the video game magazine Game Freak. But soon he became
disillusioned with the magazine contributors for their lack of creativity. He decided to
create his own game. He presented the idea of Pokémon to Nintendo and, even if they
didn’t understand the concept, they decided to give it a try. However, it wasn’t all
sunshine and rainbows. It took six years to finally bring Pokémon Red and Green to the
market in 1996. Game Freak almost went bankrupt and Tajiri did not take a salary for years. But it was worth it. In two decades, the Pokémon
mania spread and conquered the world. Video games, cartoons, a live action movie and merchandise
of any kind are now worth billions of dollars. Nothing can stop it. Not even mass induced
seizures, nor the curse of a game’s theme song. On the evening of December 16th 1997, at 6:30
p.m., thousands of Japanese kids tuned their TVs to watch the 38th episode of Pokémon,
known in English as “Electric Soldier Porygon” or “Cyber Soldier Porygon.” By 7:30, hospitals across the country had
admitted between 600 and 700 people, mostly children, suffering various symptoms, from
nausea, headache, and irritated eyes, to shortness of breath, convulsions, vomiting, and seizures. As reported by the South China Morning Post,
one boy said “I was watching TV but I couldn’t remember anything at all when it was all over.
I felt so sick.” Another girl reported, “As I was watching blue and red lights flashing
on the screen, I felt my body becoming tense. I do not remember what happened afterwards.” In less than an hour the incident was all
over national news, which accidentally caused a second wave of children being admitted to
hospitals, by re-playing the relevant clips from the episode. The episode followed Ash, Misty, Brock, and
Pikachu as they ventured into the Poké Ball transfer system in search of Porygon, a digital
Pokémon that has been kidnapped by the evil Team Rocket. Twenty-one minutes into the episode,
Pikachu launches a thunderbolt attack against some missiles. The subsequent impact makes
a strobe-like effect. The animators used the Paka Paka technique.
This consists of two colours – red and blue in this case – flashing rapidly on the screen. The colours alternate at a rate of 12 flashes
per second for approximately six seconds, which can be a bit disorienting to watch.
That’s why it is common opinion that this Paka Paka trick caused the seizures. If so,
all the people who were hospitalised suffered from photosensitive epilepsy, a condition
where rapid flashing of lights can induce seizures. However, police reports suggest that as many
as 12,000 people were affected by the clip. About 1 in 100 people worldwide have epilepsy
and only 3 per cent of those individuals have photosensitive epilepsy. The rate is slightly
higher in children, but the percentage would still be too high to account for 12,000 victims. Writer Benjamin Radford searched through records
and reports from the time and decided that the accepted timeline of events wasn’t quite
right. According to Radford, many kids watched the show live, but a lot of them watched it
the next day after news reports and schoolyard chatter had spread. He thinks the wider phenomenon
was not entirely due to photosensitive epilepsy. He believes it was more likely a mass hysteria
event. Mass hysteria happens when people are under
stress for a long period of time, to the point they self-produce physical reactions to something.
They are convinced by external influences that something will happen to them, and then
it does. As Radford explained, “”It’s not that they’re
faking it, it’s not that they’re imagining it. The symptoms are real, it’s just that
they’re being caused by being exposed to other people exhibiting those symptoms.””
The episode aired close to exam week, a time when junior high students in particular were
under massive amounts of stress. Radford’s hypothesis may actually make sense.
But then, if the phenomenon can be easily explained this way, why did the U.S. Army
propose a top-secret investigation of it in 1998?
The classified investigation files were released in 2012, in response to an anonymous Freedom
of Information Act request. The files reveal that the U.S. Army believed
the Pokémon shock event could help them develop a weapon that would use electromagnetic pulses
to overload their enemies’ nervous systems until they fell into convulsions.
The idea was that a seizure could be induced by a specific electrical stimulus triggered
through the optic nerve. The Army’s analysis noted that this kind of seizure typically
lasts between one and five minutes. Furthermore, the analysis speculated that these seizure
weapons could be “”tunable with regard to type and degree of bodily influence and affect
100% of the population.”” Still, they had to conclude, “”No experimental evidence is
available for this concept.”” Except, the report also noted that, “The photic-induced
seizure phenomenon was borne out demonstrably on December 16th 1997, on Japanese television
when hundreds of viewers of a popular cartoon were treated, inadvertently, to photic seizure
induction.”” Is it possible that the 1997 incident was
instead a premeditated top-secret weapon test? And in that case, might the experiment connect
the Pokémon Shock episode to the recurring Lavender Town legend? Lavender Town is a fictional place in the
world of Pokémon, a graveyard filled with hundreds of tombstones for deceased Pokémon.
In the games, the player can come across ghost-type Pokémon. As the legend goes, following the release
of Pokémon Red and Green in 1996, there was a series of child suicides in Japan.
Many players found the Lavender Town theme song scary, filled with a vague sense of dread,
and even capable of bringing back terrifying childhood memories. Rumours spread that the
game’s programmers created the song with hidden codes and harmful frequencies to drive
children to kill themselves. But why programmers should do such a thing, or why the suicides
happened only in Japan, was never explained. The myth endured, even after the Nintendo
replaced the song with a less creepy one. Just when it seemed that everyone was starting
to forget this story for good, Nintendo re-recorded the haunting “”Lavender Town”” theme for the
2017 Pokémon Go Halloween event. After all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity,
right? But, excellent marketing strategy aside, how
could the Pokémon company survive all of these scandals, when any other company at
that time would go bankrupt in just a few months? Well, by the end of the ’90s Pokémon was
one of the most popular TV shows in Japan, accounting for 15 per cent of total market
share in its time slot. Kids loved the show so much that in 1997, even those who were
affected by the shocking episode, wanted the program to continue. As reported by The New
York Times, a girl wrote to TV Tokyo, the original network, “I felt a little dizzy
toward the end of the program [but]I’d be sad if I couldn’t watch the program anymore.’’ Though the game came first, Pokémon’s timeless
success is very much related to the cartoon. When a generation of children discovered they
could live the same adventures as their favourite fictional characters, they sought out the
video games and gave them a rebirth. At the same time, the genius of the Pokémon
games lies in the fact that they combine the complexity that older people enjoy with a
mechanical simplicity that can be understood by youngsters. The ever-increasing variety of video game
challengers, the constant march of gaming technology and the rising success of social
networks could potentially jeopardise Nintendo’s goal of keeping their audience engaged. However,
they have embraced new technologies and refreshed the Pokémon world to make it appealing to
both longtime fans and new audiences. Take Pokémon Go as an example: they took cutting
edge augmented reality gaming and adapted it to the distinctive collection adventure
format of classic Pokémon games. Other games have tried to capitalize on augmented
reality, but no game has made the splash that Pokémon Go has. According to Digital Psychologist Liraz Margalit,
Pokémon Go’s success is partly because it scratches some of our basic psychological
itches. Each time the player advances a level, the challenge is revived and the renewed craving
to collect keeps us playing. A big part of the game is based on the unexpected
gratification players experience when finding creatures as they walk. Pokémon can appear
at any time and in any place. Scientists attribute the joy players feel to dopamine, a neurotransmitter
found in our brain. Dopamine is associated with feelings of enjoyment and scientists
say that we can expect higher levels of dopamine when we encounter unexpected rewards. Therefore, when we receive unexpected rewards,
on a randomized basis, it forces us more strongly into obsessively repeating our behaviour than
a reward given on a predictable basis would. This may sound familiar. According to the
American Society of Addiction Medicine, “”Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward,
motivation, memory and related circuitry.”” Based on this, Professor Russell Belk believes
that Pokémon can become a real addiction, but only in extreme cases. At least for now. Pokémon has positive sides, for sure. Across
all forms of media, it provides joy to millions of fans. The trading aspect of the franchise,
and the whole design of Pokémon Go gives gamers an incentive to live a more active
and social life. But, can the addiction to Pokémon become dangerous? And how far can
the danger go? ”



  • Uncovered

    Favourite Pokemon of all time??

  • Truth Seeker


  • Justice

    Lavender theme causing kids to suicide? that's a fucking joke. The background music to this video will cause suicides.

  • WeAREwaiting

    VIDEOS LIKE THIS MAKES ME GLAD AM A PATREAON!!! As a HUGE Pokemon Fan i really enjoyed this video!!!!

  • Kam

    please make a video about the mystery of the creator of bitcoin, satoshi nakamoto. would be a good one

  • qwyzl

    i despise pokemon.

  • lmao watching this while working in my uncle's pokemon card shop

  • Ryan Michaud

    My gf has epilepsy and has photo sensitive epilepsy

  • Gary Brunsvold

    Personally i think pokemon is stupid

  • BattleModeBainbridge

    In NA it was Red/Blue not Green and I didn't know all that stuff about the creator ^_^

  • Levi-Dean Astorga-Kahukoti

    I was very addicted to pokemon go. I would set my alarm to sleep so that I could charge my power banks and go out for 24hour walks around my city catching pokemon

  • NFCguy Wraith

    Fascinating upload.

  • Fyck ugh

    Why is this kinda stuff the only thing that helps me sleep lmao

  • Harry

    4:00 that however you came for

  • ICommentCuzILike

    there ARE those dumbass kids who throw their hamsters inside their hamsterballs, try to stuff cats in small spaces, etc because of pokemon… but those kids are darwin awards waiting to happen

  • Cameron Ring

    was the background music in this the creepy theme from the Lavender Fields?

  • Asianniga

    "Pokemon go may be addictive" You don't say. this crap game with its micro Transactions made 2.8 billion!!!! last year alone.

  • vr43000gtkid

    Not gonna lie Jynx could get it

  • Snootchie Bootchie Nootchie

    Just watched detective Pikachu last night now I see this lol

  • Alex B

    I love Pokémon and DBZ for the same reasons, evolutions.

  • Alex B


  • VerdantHowl

    Addicted to pokemon?
    I believe the term is "Pokemon Master"

  • Lord Karasu

    super religious people have joined the chat

  • Thomas Redman

    Fact we need not ignore nature its as complicated as pokemon.

  • Fred Fudgealot

    i used to love pokemon, but then i grew up.

  • Tsuchi

    I was addicted to Pokemon but after help, I stopped. Now I'm just addicted to crack.

  • TearDownGenesis

    @1:45 Red and Blue

  • Catherine Dore

    Btw, Asperger's is an outdated term. Everything on the spectrum is just called Autistic now.

  • Vladimir Villiani

    pokemon: *releases deadly episode

    Japanese Fox News: *replays episode while reporting on it just in case you missed it the first time

  • Daniel Morris

    10:36 wtf is up with mans leg??

  • Abdulmoiz Ayyaz

    so theyre going to stop us with their epilepsy device , WE WILL STILL FREE EM ALL!!!! #raidarea51!

  • Gabriel Mr.

    why changing the name of the channel?


    Restarted Pokemon Go on july 14th, it's 8/13 now, and I'm already almost level 31 l0l0l. I am addicted… I notice it, too, lol. The daily interactions with friends and "building" friendships with players, the new IV system, trading & battling. Very fun! Incentives while traveling-> catch different pokemon that aren't local to you. Walk-> hatch eggs. Play the game more often-> better chance at catching 'shiny' pokemon. Tons of stuff to make the game fun, like getting together with friends to go do Raid Battles for legendary pokemon, or just going out for walks with to hatch eggs.

    I see the addicting part though, lol. If you run out of pokeballs… easiest way to get more is to BUY more, rather than waiting to go visit pokestops. Verrrry easy to spend money on this game. I am a victim lol,but I admit fault 100%. I spend 'a lot' of money on this damn game. Worth it, though.

  • Julz J

    Never really took to pokemon. I only did as a kid because everyone else was doing it. But i am also an artist, could the asperger/autism element mean that it just didnt resonate in me?
    (I do not mean to degrade anyone here, nor asume myself above anyone)

  • Hydrogenblonde

    There is something sinister about pokemon.

  • R E A

    Gotta catch em all to make weapon out of it 😀

  • Micah Lim

    Well…I'm not addicted to Pokemon now but when I was a kid I clocked in over 1,000 hours on Pokemon ruby.

  • Boghman22

    In the past few years, my opinion of pokemon has shifted from "eh" to "why?" Like why was this ever a thing? Pokemon couldn't have been very good for our young, impressionable minds.

    Edit:it's a 'spiracy

  • Korstmahler

    Humans are built for rote memorisation but since we only really use it for songs these days, and don't often use those songs to remember things, hearing a song you heard as a kid years afterwards is going to hit you with any associated memory patterns, including bad ones repressed often by throwing oneself into whatever game was being played at a time.
    inb4 a slew of personal accounts of unverifiable nature.

  • Autistic Mind

    Great video as always guys, but just one note. We don't "suffer" from Aspergers, and nor are we Aspergers "patients", we're just your regular everyday people.

  • The World I See

    I don’t know why, but at the end of every video, I always look for the Patreon Supporter “Lukas Hlous”. I reckon it’s his name that appears unique to me. But every time, I will look to see if it’s there! Just thought I would share that random fact of insanity that is me! LOL😂

  • Xavier

    Good Video

  • Roland Deschain

    Was this channel called something else? 🤷🏻‍♂️

  • arfara33

    pokefan here

  • jimcle mctson

    South Park warned us years ago

  • Michael Carrillo

    So this is the Pokemon creepy pasta episode?

  • Elizabeth Ingalls

    The Lavender Town thing is just a creepypasta. The music couldn't cause suicidal thoughts. The worst thing that'll happen is the high pitches could give you a headache and the theme could creep you out.

    The Electric Soldier Porygon thing is real, though. I think it's totally unfair that the whole Porygon line has been excluded from the anime because of that controversy.

  • N O

    There was 4 colors flashing during the seizure scene, red blue yellow and purple

  • Svinja

    Pokémon: “flashes of lights for 3 seconds*
    Kids: don’t like that



    Hi guys great video once again .. not my thing but still interesting .. please could you possibly do a video about MK Ultra/ Hollyweird Celebs having meltdowns and brain washing programmes etc etc .. such a wonderful conspiracy to delve into and you guys will tell it so well please .. xx

  • Kamden Vera


  • Kamden Vera

    Why did the US do it?
    Because they're assholes.

  • LittleDreamerRem

    Playing Pokemon X at the moment. I see no issue.

  • Jwanie

    This was a great video. I'm somewhat addicted to Pokémon, but not to the point where I'd give up something more important for it. Also, THANK YOU for using an actual picture of Satoshi Tajiri, and NOT Tsunekazu Ishihara. I dunno how other YTers keep mixing the two up

  • darkmastax

    Interested in a similar video on world of Warcraft addiction. Hope you guys can create such a video.

  • Roy Derg

    Pokemon = pocket demon
    It is demonic

  • christopher ketch

    I got a Pokémon AD

  • Brian T

    6 year old girl sais my body became tense i warched blue and red colours realy hm seems pretty descriptive for a child actuly sounds kind of like something a Attorney would come up with lol

  • Brian T

    I cant fucking stand pokemon guess im to intelligent to be brainwashed love me some jiggly puff tho

  • Timbo Dewabem

    There are far easier and nicer things to become addicted to

  • wrecked3m

    I watch your new videos every week. I’m addicted to Pokémon. I’ve been a shiny hunter for at least 6 years. I play with 4 Nintendo DS and 3DS systems at once, using a variety of methods including soft resets, breeding and chaining to catch shiny Pokémon. Yesterday I caught 3 shinies, today I’m breeding Hoothoot for a shiny and chaining Eevee. I reset for Mewtwo on soulsilver version nonstop. The random unexpected reward is 100% the attraction to shiny hunting, you could catch one quickly or spend weeks restarting the game at a legendary encounter.

  • Umang Jain

    7:59 – In the naughties?

  • Quintonias

    I would like to say, I've looked into the Asperger's claim and there's not much of a source for it. The only article I was able to find was from an Autismspeaks kind of website (Might've actually been Autism Speaks) and nothing else really seemed to mention it. Even Bulbapedia can't find a reliable source.

  • Winter-Soldier *

    The only reason niantic still kicking in the gaming world is because of pokemon go if not they would be so far down the app store not even godzilla can get them out, they neglect the rural players and never lisen to its players, i know this because my son and i were hard core players since it started and quit recently because of this.
    also there is a community of players i am sure in every town and niantic instead of promoting unity they divide them, the spoofers( the ones that can hack the game and move/teleport while sitting somewhere) and the " legits" which claim they obey niantic TOS by the letter (which is not true at all) this two are at war everywhere you go, my community is like this, full of toxicity and angry people that if you dont play how they want you to play they kick you out, i have seen everything from full on arguments to fist fights over a stupid game, and niantic just ignores this and let it happen because all they care is the money.

  • Matthew Fowler

    I must be one of the few people who cant stand pokemon 😂😂


    Can you cover Jeffrey Epstien’s “suicide?” There’s a lot of things that don’t add up in the case.


    Was Pokémon firered anyone’s first Pokémon game?.

  • kelly shea

    Lavander Town syndrome is a creepy pasta lol

  • Storm Ravaged

    I'm almost 30 and I play the card game with my nieces

  • Dark Flame

    If the Pokemon anime had stopped, I would've not been able to see the greatest poke shipping and Pokemon anime of all time… #Amourshipping 🙂

  • Jaden Tea Lol

    I was hoping you guys would cover this one

  • Brandon McCreight

    Talks about paka paka causing seizures. Proceeds to flash the screen.

  • Brandon McCreight

    Also weird Chris McCreight is a patron for y’all. I’ve grown up always being the only McCreight’s in this area. Strange that others exist.

  • ugga duggas ffs

    u got some spunk on your keybord.

  • Ecommerce Sales

    Great click bait and misinformation.

  • Goten Boolin

    What happened to all time conspiracies?

  • Aurobindo Ghosh

    he doesn't suffer from that syndrome but he knew what humans expect their pets to be so he make pokemon

  • ThePhilosorpheus

    "How could Pokemon survive these scandals?" well they´re not scandals, they´re urban legends and conspiracies

  • ViviSectia

    Is there going to be a similar episode on Digimon? I wouldn't be surprised if there was a few conspiracies about the show due to the actual cult that formed around it. Not to mention the show itself having references to various occult books and getting more brazen every season with it's references to Satan until the fourth or fifth season where they just outright gave the character named after Lucifer an evolution called Satan Mode.

  • Jellied Eels !

    Pocket monster's

  • Sergiu H

    I remember that stupid song from the ghost town, always freaked me out, always scared of it, i used to turn off the sound because it was that scary to me … my cousin did the same, my aunt actually said it something wrong with that song. (this when i was very young and the gameboy was a thing, the new pokemons for gameboy just released and it was great)


    Omg …psychological effect of fuckin click bait

  • 1Zero1 One2Zero

    I stopped watching during 2008 i think. Never played any of the games but still got a lot of cards at my old house I think.

  • microtech5871

    Great videos as always…one suggestion please add all time to Uncovered so that you're at the top of my subscription list. #robotrobin

  • J Kaart

    Did anyone else watch a Pokemon go advertisement before the video?

  • M.N. AIMAN

    I am once addicted to "collect" pokemons and have sense of achievement when new pokemon captured.. But then my age has washed that away

  • Sylveon

    Got a Pokémon go AD

  • Crazy Contraptions

    Sounds unnervingly similar to the Mk Ultra Project..

  • Austin Starke

    I was absolutely entranced by Pokemon cards as a kid

  • pete

    Uhm sources please!

  • Sir KC

    I've heard of both of these but this is an interesting way to connect them. Good vid! 👍

  • Alberto Aguilar

    If they investigated pokemon what makes you think they aren't investigating minecraft

  • Cristian Guerrero

    Very helpful for pokemon the"mass hysteria" theory…

  • Baba Kazi

    I have been playing pokemon since i was 3 years old. Im 26 now and im playing while watching this video. Pokemon red was my very first video game and im proud of that

  • HamStuff

    As someone with more friends with Aspergers than those that do not, I recommend saying Aspergers with a soft g rather than a hard G. Also, "suffers from" is debatable.

  • Bhaswara Arizon

    Sweet Jesus, so this is all the reason why those god-slaying priest claimed this entire franchise is Satanic from the Beginning?

  • levi kirito123

    I stop watching Pokémon since the Last Episode XY&Z, and Read Fan comic when Ash married to Serena.

  • Will Irwin

    You guys see a pattern here? This goes right back to MKULTRA.

  • Eyes Of Ahriman

    The Lavender Town myth is based off the 2010/2011 creepy pasta "Come Follow Me".

    It's a great read but way too many people took it seriously and it became a silly myth that endured

  • T.J. McCallum

    This makes the Pokemon Go thing infinitely more concerning….

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