Should Pokemon fighting be banned? - Great Debate

Just how dangerous is Pokmon fighting?

Recently, animal rights group PETA put out an interactive flash game speaking out against Nintendos Pokmon series, officially standing against Pokemon capturing, training, and battles. While many poked fun at this and highlighted it as an example of PETA being out of touch, it definitely got us thinking: if Pokmon were real, why wouldn't this conversation come up more? Should Pokemon fighting be banned?

On the tree-hugging, puppy petting, Team Plasma-supporting side is Hollander Cooper (2-1-0), who believes that we should all just hold hands and stop forcing fire-breathing monsters to murder each other. On the animal cruelty, dog-fighting side is Henry Gilbert (0-2-0), who maintains that we should stick by the old ways and enjoy watching animals electrocute each other.

Cooper says, Pokmon training is inhumane.

Cooper: Before youre able to battle your pets (which Ill get to later), you need to train them, an act which is remarkably cruel and unusual. In order to get them more powerful you need to force them to fight hundreds of battles, pump them full of rare candies (which have proven to be bad for Pokmon health), and force them to spend a majority of their time in small, cramped balls. This is disturbing, and shouldnt be allowed.

Henry: First off, on more than a few occasions Pokmon are able to accompany their trainers outside the ball. But even if they dont, theres been no proven correlation between a Pokmons happiness rating and the time they spend inside a ball. And compared to the dangers they may face in the wild, I would suspect some Pokmon find the Pok Ball preferable.

Henry says, Pokmon don't die, they merely faint.

Henry: Not to sound too heartless, but no matter how heated a Pokmon battle can become or grievous the damage to the participants, you must keep one thing in mind: it is impossible to die. In the entire recorded history of Pokmon battles, the fight only ends when one (or even both) monsters are unable to continue, but are still breathing and often can be fully healed post-match. As per the rules, these are not blood sports, and no Pokmon is ever in danger of dying.

Cooper: Just because theyre not being outright killed doesn't mean theyre not being damaged, both mentally and physically. Fainting after being damaged by blows to the body or head can actually lead to concussions, which can lead to permanent brain or memory damage. Mental attacks by Ghost, Psychic, or Dark-type Pokmon can also leave enemys brains scrambled. Sure, theyre not dead, but they might be better off that way.

Cooper says, It desensitizes children to violence!

Cooper: Pokmon battling is advertised at, and geared specifically for children, usually under the age of 13. These pre-teens are then roaming the streets and battling anyone they make eye contact with, learning that its alright to start a fight, and that violence is fun and trivial. Having kids watch Pokmon constantly be wounded or injured undoubtedly leaves mental scarring, and desensitizes them to the horrors of battle.

Henry: What you see as damaging to children is what I call responsibility. By giving children something to care for, they learn important values that will last them their whole lives. Perhaps some children have grown into poor trainers, but most that you meet out in the wild love their Pokmon and see fighting as the fun pastime that it is.

Henry says, Pokmon healthcare is free.

Henry: Even if they cant die, admittedly Pokmon can still take damage, and healing them can cost a lot when you take into account potions and curing status ailments. This could cause many Pokmon to suffer if their trainer cant afford proper medication, but thats never an issue thanks to the convenient and--more importantly--FREE healthcare provided at all Pokmon Centers. Just hand over your team to Nurse Joy and in moments they are fully restored at no cost. Pokmon care doesnt get any easier than that.

Cooper: Where does the money for said free Pokmon health care come from, eh? Ill tell you where: Our tax dollars. All of the money we earn and spend is taxed, with a portion of that going to paying Nurse Joy to stitch back on a Pikachus ear after it was ripped off by a rabid Pineco. Wheres our free health care? Maybe if we stopped paying for Chanseys to mend burnt Bulbasaurs we might be able to get our own doctors appointments.

Cooper says, Pokemon battles are tantamount to animal cruelty.

Cooper: The actual act of Pokmon battles are barbaric and disgusting. Having a fire-powered dinosaur breath flames on a twig is going to result in the plant-type Pokmon being burnt to a crisp 100% of the time. Oh, and dont even get me started on Ghost-type Pokmon--ghosts of the dead eating the dreams and poisoning their opponents. Some Pokmon have human-level intelligence or higher! How can we justify forcing them to fight for our amusement?

Henry: Pokmon are a reflection of everything in our natural world, a world that conforms to the rule survival of the fittest. The savage type difference between Charizards and Bulbasaurs existed long before humans began capturing them. Official Pokmon battles at least keep the fights in a controlled environment, with rules, officials, and nearby first aid. Theyd likely be fighting even without humanitys interference, so the much more civilized battles that are overseen by licensed trainers is a far better life for a Pokmon.

Henry says, It's the cornerstone of the world's economy.

Henry: Ending Pokmon battling is something the worlds economy simply cant withstand. Pok Ball production, food, accessories, films and sporting events featuring Pokmon; virtually everything you see around you is based on the interaction of humans with Pokmon . Remove that, laying off the many people employed by corporations like Silph and Devon, and youre left with a ruined global economy all because of small collection of misguided bleeding hearts.

Cooper: So what? Just because weve built our entire infrastructure around animal cruelty doesnt mean we should be scared of change. We werent worried about the Ponyta-riding industry when we invented the bike. Bill didnt worry about the typewriter when he created the PC. We need to be willing to move on, especially if its for the greater good.

Cooper says, Empowering and leveling up Pokmon could backfire.

Cooper: It was less than 15 years ago that the Pokemon Mewtwo launched an assault on humanity, using its superior psychic powers to attempt to bring down the people that had once attempted to contain it. The power of friendship did, indeed, prevent this from becoming a worldwide catastrophe, but how can we in good faith continue to empower and level up Pokmon knowing that, if organized, the beasts could overthrow humanity, especially if we continue to make them stronger.

Henry: As long as there are dedicated, loving trainers out there like Ash Ketchum, that grim future will never come to pass. Legendary Pokmon like Mewtwo, Ho-Oh, and many more have caused damage thanks to their extreme power, so its a good thing that they can be caught and come to understand the friendship of a trainer. In this case, Pokmon ownership helps protect the world from potential threats like those.

Henry says, Pokmon fighting teaches the value of friendship."

Henry: In this cold, unfeeling world, no bond is closer or more true than the one between a Pokmon and its trainer. The more they work together in battle, the greater the connection between them. As the trainer grows in experience and the Pokmon level up, the friendship grows greater and greater. Yes, some Pokmon champions havent been all that nice to their monsters, but the truest of Pokmon Masters are the ones that befriend their team as well as command them.

Cooper: Friends dont force their friends to fight fights they know they cant win. Friends dont shove their friends in balls for 99% of their life. Friends? Trainers arent friends with their Pokmon--theyre their masters, and the Pokmon are their servants. Just because people pet their Pokmon, make movies with them, and cook them Poffins doesnt really make you their friend, it just means youre making sure theyre plenty healthy for the slaughter.

Who won?

Who won this heated debate? Pokmon rights or the tradition of Pokmon training? Answer in the poll and explain yourself in the comments.

Should Pokmon fighting be banned?

Need to learn more about Pokmon to make your choice? Check out our updated legendary Pokmon guide and Pokmon Black/White 2 review.

Hollander Cooper

Hollander Cooper was the Lead Features Editor of GamesRadar+ between 2011 and 2014. After that lengthy stint managing GR's editorial calendar he moved behind the curtain and into the video game industry itself, working as social media manager for EA and as a communications lead at Riot Games. Hollander is currently stationed at Apple as an organic social lead for the App Store and Apple Arcade.