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Environmental

Conservation & Pokmon


Ranger

Alexandra Byrne

1798 words
The beloved series of Pokmon has been around since the late 1980s,
creating games, trading cards, a television show, and more, that have
developed into its own culture, adored by fans of all ages throughout the
world. The traditional Pokmon games have always followed the same basic
format- a young trainer on a mission to catch em all as they say, and train
their Pokmon to be the toughest, winning any battle they come across.
However, this traditional storyline has become overused in the series, and
newer games have begun to deviate from and abandon this formula. Since
the arrival of the Nintendo DS, there have been many new spin-off Pokmon
games, that have been innovative in the way they handle the Pokmon
world- from puzzle games that have really no storyline, to games that allow
you to be one of the Pokmon, rather than a human.
A standout in this new wave of Pokmon games is Pokmon Ranger.
Released in 2006 for the Nintendo DS, this game completely changes the
trite and overdone storyline from the trainer games such as Pokmon Red, or
Sapphire before it. The main protagonist in this game is an older, more
mature character who is not a trainer at all. They have a job as a Ranger who
does not own Pokmon, but captures them to use them to help the
community and complete missions, all the while developing stronger
relations with the Pokmon they meet. The main idea of borrowing Pokmon
from the wild using your Capture Styler, rather than using the traditional

Pokball to catch them permanently, is made more unique, by utilizing the


DS stylus to physically draw loops around your target, until they are
weakened enough to be captured (Harris, IGN). This creates a more personal
interaction with the game, and allows the player feel more in-touch with the
Pokmon they are catching, and brings them in closer to the story itself. This
physical closeness is an important feature of the gameplay, and really plays
into the developers hidden messages within the game.
Within all of these missions the character is assigned in the story, there
is a reoccurring theme of helping the environment that can be seen with
each new mission as the story progresses. This is intentionally done by the
game developers, in order to teach lessons on conservation, and instill a
compassion for the world we live in. There are examples of this in nearly
every mission in the story- from the very first rookie mission of putting out
fires in the trees with the use of water type Pokmon, to infiltrating an evil
organizations base to rescue Pokmon that are being used against their will.
These missions, big and small, all reflect themes of protecting the
environment, and rescuing animals, which are all at the root of conservation.
According to Dictionary.com, environmental conservation is defined as
the protection, preservation, management, or restoration of natural
environments and the ecological communities that inhabit them
(Dictionary.com). This perfectly encompasses the main story plot of Pokmon
Ranger, with the subtle environmental undertones throughout the game. The
first glimpse of this idea can be seen in the tutorial part of the story, where

the player is given a series of short missions just to test their initial skill level
and show them how to achieve proper basic gameplay techniques.
The first of these short tutorial missions involves putting out a forest
fire in the nearby woods, next to the Ranger Base. The player is tasked with
finding a water type Pokmon and using their ability to put out the enflamed
trees. This, in itself, is an obvious lesson in protecting the environment
through bonding with nature. Not only does the player become aware of the
dangers of forest fires, but they also must bond with a Pokmon in order to
borrow their ability to stop the fire, which both instills the need to develop a
good relationship with the environment, and a want to take care of it,
because it is being seen a good thing to do.
The second in the tutorial missions is going on a search and rescue
mission to find a wandering elderly man, who has gotten lost in the woods. A
little while after he is rescued, you find out that he is actually the leader of
the games main antagonist group, the Go-Rock Squad. However, unknowing
of this, the players job is to save him from the perils of the forest, navigating
through the dark, insect and wild animal ridden pathways. The connection to
the environment is that on your way out of the forest there is an ancient
shrine that says you must not upset the natural order of things, and no
flowers or stones may be removed or taken beyond the limits of the woods.
Now, it is not actually a possible action to complete anyways in-game, but its
significance is still there. It is damaging to the environment to remove the
plants or remove artifacts that naturally grow and belong there. It is one of

the key naturalist principles to leave what you find when exploring forests
and other protected areas (ltn.org). This signpost, however insignificant to
the actual gameplay it may be, identifies an important step in environmental
protection and conservation and teaches a lesson in not removing artifacts
and plants from the areas in which the naturally grow and belong to, as it is
harmful to the natural world.
As the story progresses, these environmentally conscious undertones
grow more prominent, and more important to the actual content of the
storyline. After several rookie missions with a low level of danger or
importance, the player faces up against a new enemy who call themselves
the Go-Rock Squad. They have stolen the blueprints necessary to build the
rangers Capture Styler and are producing them on their own, but using them
not to help the community and fight as rangers, but, of course, to pursue
their main goal of defeating all the rangers and controlling the Foire region
through the exploitation of the power of Pokmon. Their newly-developed
Stylers capture Pokmon without the need for and emotional connectionthey catch Pokmon against their will and can keep them under their control,
and can even make them attack other people, which is something they
normally would never do.
After the player is familiar with the Go-Rock Squad and their heinous
crimes against society, they are sent to infiltrate their secret factory, where
they are constructing these Super Stylers, and to shut down the factory to
halt the production of them. When you are finally able to crack their security

code and sneak into the factory, you soon find out that the power source for
the building is actually several Pikachus and other electric-type Pokmon
that are locked in cages, with their power being drained from them to give
electricity to the factory. It is now the players job to free the imprisoned
Pokmon from this torture, through finding Pokmon lurking in the factory
who have the ability to cut through the metal cages.
The clear mistreatment and abuse of Pokmon in this scenario not only
is wrong by the game and the world of Pokmons standards, but it also
sheds light on a larger issue in the real world. The issue the developers are
showing concerns for and advocating against is animal cruelty and abuse.
Animal cruelty and neglect are defined as deliberate abuse and
mistreatment of animals, and the denial of food or water, respectively
(Humanesociety.org). In this case, Pokmon are representative of animals,
and the Go-Rock Squad are representing these abusive pet owners, in a more
extreme way. It is shown in this extremely vicious way to really show how
sinister and awful the effects of animal cruelty can be, and to portray to the
player the seriousness of the issue. It makes the player feel a sense of
accomplishment and pride, all the while instilling in them a want to protect
these creatures and keep them from harm.
After being shown all of these examples of how the story of Pokmon
Ranger relates to and expresses environmental conservation and protection
themes, it is important to ask why these hidden messages have been
implemented, and what it all means. There is no need to suspect this as

being some kind of left-wing propaganda on the developers part- it is


important to keep in mind that this game is rated E for everyone by ESRB
rating system, and is in fact targeted at kids around ten years old or younger.
These missions in the story are likely taken at face value by the kids playing
it, and it is almost certain they will not read into it as much as I have. It is
also worth mentioning that I have played through this game completely
roughly five times now, it was only after picking up the game as an adult that
I discovered the pattern of all of these missions. Taking that into account, it
can be reasonably inferred that the developers had no intention of the
players seeing this reoccurring environmentally conscious theme. However,
that does not mean they did not want to get across a message. Whether the
kids playing it know it or not, they are being taught various lessons on
conservation and protection that are at the heart of taking care of the planet.
To conclude, the messages of helping the environment and protecting
animal species that can be found in abundance within the plot of Pokmon
Ranger are put in by the developers in a deliberate way, and not just by
mere coincidence. These messages that ask the player to help benefit the
natural world, embedded within the main story quest, show how rewarding it
can be to care for the environment. As the player completes missions and
their ranger rank increases, they are rewarded with the ability to travel to
further regions in the game, and unlock the ability to have more partner
Pokmon with them as they travel. This shows that when you are helpful to
the Earth, you are praised and rewarded, making them more likely to display

this compassion for the natural world in their everyday life, thereby
achieving the goal of the developers to instill a need to take care of the
world, in the younger generation.

Bibliography
Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, LLC. 1995. Web. January 25th, 2016.
Harris, Craig. Pokmon Ranger Review. IGN. Ziff Davis. November 2nd, 2006.
Web (magazine). January 25th, 2016.

Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. LNT.org. 2012. Web. January 26th,
2016.
Pokmon Ranger. HAL Laboratory Creatures Inc. The Pokmon Company.
October 30th, 2006. Video Game.
The Human Society of the United States. Humanesociety.org. 2016. Web.
January 26th, 2016.