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Nerd Confession: I Watch People Play Pokemon (And I’ve Never Played Myself)

There was a time when I could sit down and binge watch a television show or marathon a few movies, but that time is long gone.  Nowadays my TV is usually on only if I’m eating, washing dishes, or it’s college football season – and even then my attention is never undivided.

So serialized stories that aren’t in podcast or book form are tough for me to keep up with.  I had to find something I could drop in and out of without missing a story beat.

It all started when I was playing Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle and watching a few Youtubers do summons videos, unit showcases, and the like.  One of the guys I watched for Dokkan also had a channel devoted to Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards, so I clicked “Play” on a few of those because I enjoy the personality.  He mainly opened packs or reviewed a batch of cards he got PSA graded; I never watched him play either game.

But then the algorithms took over!

My recommendations suddenly populated with Pokemon TCG world tournament brackets and videos of people playing Pokemon Trading Card Game Online (PTCGO).  I didn’t really like the tournament videos I tried because they assumed a lot of knowledge on behalf of the viewer; none of which I had.  I’ve never played Pokemon TCG.  I think I played one of the Gameboy games years and years ago and have seen a few episodes of the original anime, but that’s the full extent of my knowledge and exposure.  Last time I knew, there were only 151 of those bad boys.  Now?  There are more than 800yo.  I’ve missed a lot, it seems!

But then I stumbled upon DarkIntegral Gaming’s PTCGO videos and found the perfect fit for my short window of tolerance for video entertainment.

Youtuber Donald Cook’s formula for his videos is great!  He begins each by showcasing the deck build he’s going to feature in the gameplay footage to follow:

  • Which Pokemon are included and why
  • What Tools and Trainers are included in the deck and why
  • The synergy of all 60 cards
  • The strategy of the deck

He then shows 3 or 4 matches he completed with the featured deck from one of his live streams – wins and losses – and you get to see how it all works for better or for worse.  And what keeps me coming back to Donald’s videos on my lunch break are a few key ingredients to his format:

  • Donald is downright delightful.  He is vocal and peppy and is clearly having a ton of fun.
  • He is also wicked smart when it comes to the game.  His deck builds are phenomenal and totally work regardless of whether they’re power decks, counter decks, or even troll decks.  He engineers them exceedingly well.  Perhaps more importantly:  He plays them well.  He vocalizes every move he makes while playing so you’re always aware of his thought processes, anticipations, and strategies.  This is a huge part of why I watch:  He doesn’t assume you know anything.  He explains it all.
  • He’s not always playing “standard” decks; he’s shaking things up quite a bit.  I don’t keep circling back to his channel because I want to see him play another Rayquaza/Vickavolt or Zoroark/Lycanroc deck (although he does have those).  I keep coming back because I find myself asking, “What is he going to come up with this time?

And that is what I’m finding I love about watching him and a couple others play:  Their creative strategy.  I like being exposed to their thought processes because they stimulate my own.

Donald also takes the time to critique and review the build’s performance at the end of each video across 6 metrics:

  1. Unique Trait
  2. Damage (out of 5)
  3. Defense (out of 5)
  4. Reliability (out of 5)
  5. Rating (out of 5)
  6. Weakness

So although I have no intention of ever playing the Pokemon card game or PTCGO, I love this channel!  If you’re a fan of Pokemon TCG or play regularly yourself, I’m sure there’s even more to love in Donald’s content as he also hosts video reviews of the cards included in new expansions and such.  Maybe you’ll walk away with a new idea for a deck or two!

But the larger beauty from my perspective is that a guy who knows very little about Pokemon in general and absolutely nothing about the card game can tune in, follow along, and learn with ease.  This is the magic of Donald’s channel.  Check it out sometime and see what I mean!