A few days back I walked into my daughter’s room.
For no real reason, I posed my hands as if I was carrying a box.
“What have you got?” my daughter asked.
“A box!” I replied.
“What’s in the box?”
I had not thought that far ahead, so I just went through the motions of opening up the invisible box. It held a smaller box, which held a smaller box, until I got down to an imaginary box that fit in one hand. I pretended to open it up, and held it in front of her.
She reached in and pulled something out. I asked what it was. She said, “A gym badge?”
All roads lead to Sinnoh.
A gym badge is, if you play the Pokemon games, what you earn for defeating the local gym leader.
A gym is where Pokemon trainers go to improve the skills. Every jerkwater town in the land of Pokemon seems to have at least one Pokemon gym with its own odd-ball, tin-pot dictator, hidden behind a layer of incompetent sycophants, and running the place in the name of his or her Pokemon philosophy.
And a trainer is somebody who battle with Pokemon, so when you play the game, you play as a trainer.
Some trainers seem to sit in a single town and hang out at the gym, waiting to be challenged. Other trainers… anybody other than an NPC… travel from town to town with the thought of challenging gym leaders and winning gym badges.
And since my daughter and I have been playing Pokemon Diamond together, we tend to talk about the gym badges and how we’re going to get the next one. (We both have 7 of 8 now, so we’re moving right along.)
And, coming after some evening play time, a gym badge popped right into her mind.
This gave me an idea.
“Yes,” I said, “The badge for your gym!”
This immediately set her off to thinking about what her badge would look like and what sort of Pokemon her gym would specialize in.
Eventually we decided that we would each after to form our own gyms and then challenge each other.
But first we would have to design gym badges. Off we went to the iMac and KidPix.
KidPix: Best tool ever for this sort of thing. Easy to use, lots of neat tools, and plenty of just the right kind of clip art.
We eschewed the rather stylized gym badges of the game, preferring something more akin to a sign. A gym shingle, if you will.
My daughter, deciding her gym was all about electric Pokemon, put her own rendition of Pikachu in the middle.
I, with a mix of water and electric Pokemon, and less patience for drawing, went the full clip art route for my own gym sign.
And so they were printed out, hers she hung on her bedroom door, while I hung mine on the door of my office at home.
I also printed out half size versions to serve as the gym badges.
The battles themselves proved to be interesting. In leveling up my Pokemon, I chose a somewhat Eisenhower-like “broad front” approach, so I had, representing my gym, a full pack of six Pokemon in the low 40s.
We chose to do double battles, where we would each field a pair of Pokemon at a time. She was the first challenger.
The battle did not go my way. I decided to try to whittle down her lesser Pokemon, saving the titanic Luxray for last, thinking to attack where my enemy was weakest.
However, the savage blows from her main Pokemon chewed up my team while I failed completely to knock out even one of hers.
So when it came my turn to challenge her, I changed up my tactics. I threw everything I had against her Luxray. A few key critical hits and I was able to force it from the battle. While it had cost me three of my own Pokemon to remove her monster from play, the odds were now in my favor. I was able to knock out her Pikachu in the next round, then chewed through all of her lower level Pokemon quickly enough.
Which, if nothing else, might shed some light on the whole operation Market-Garden fiasco.
“I let you win,” she said, a comment I blame entirely on the influence of my mother-in-law, for whom the term “good loser” (along with “good winner”) is an entirely foreign concept.
So we each have the gym badge of the other.
However, as we approach the end of the game, my daughter has been considering non-electric Pokemon. This might mean the founding of a new gym, new badges, and new challenges.
We shall see.