Pokemon and Magic Cards Affect the Minds and Values of Children
Dangers of Role-Playing Games
Berit Kjos www.crossroad.to
The author has granted permission for
this article to appear on the Logos
are the strange little creatures from Japan that have suddenly become global super-stars?
Most kids know the answer well: They are called Pokemon (short for POCKEt MONster
and pronounced Pokeymon), and they have stirred up some mixed reactions.
"We just sent a letter home
today saying Pokemon cards are no longer allowed on campus," said Paula Williams,
a second-grade teacher in Danville, California. "The kids know they're supposed
to be put away when they come in from recess, but they're often in the middle
of a trade, so they don't come in on time. In the more extreme cases, the older
kids are getting little kids to trade away valuable cards . . . . It drives a
concerns parents even more. "Recently, my children were given a set of Pokemon
cards," said DiAnna Brannan, a Seattle mom. "They are very popular with the children
at our church and elsewhere. I was instantly suspicious but couldn't discern the
problem. We have since been told that they are stepping stones to the 'Magic cards'
that have been popular for the last few years, which we do not allow."
She is right. For instance, any child exploring the most popular Pokemon websites
" 2 will be linked to a selection of occult games such as Sailor
Moon, Star Wars, and others more overtly evil. A click on the ad for "Magic: the
Gathering" brings Pokemon fans to a site offering promotions such as this:
"A global games phenomenon,
Magic: The Gathering is to the 1990s what Dungeons and Dragons was to the 1980s,
but with the added dimension of collectibility. Here is the official reference
to the biggest new teen/young adult fantasy game of the decade, complete with
full-color reproductions of every existing Magic card."
above websites gives us glimpse of the mysterious little creatures called Pokemon.
Ponder the suggestions in this greeting:
to the world of Pokemon, a special place where people just like you train to become
the number-one Pokemon Master in the World!"
what is a Pokemon, you ask. 'Pokemon are incredible creatures that share the world
with humans,' says Professor Oak, the leading authority on these monsters. "There
are currently 150 documented species of Pokemon. . . . Each Pokemon has its own
special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow, or evolve, into even more powerful
creatures.. . . Carry your pokemon with you, and you're ready for anything!
You've got the power in your hands, so use it!"." 3
What if children try to follow this advice? What if they carry their favorite
monsters like magical charms or fetishes in their pockets, trusting them to bring
power in times of need?
Many do. It makes sense to those who watch the television show. In a recent episode,
Ash, the boy hero, had just captured his fifth little Pokemon. But that wasn't
good enough, said his mentor. He must catch lots more if he wants to be a Pokemon
master. And the more he catches and trains, the more power he will have for future
So Ash sets out again in search for more of the reclusive, power-filled, little
Pokemon. His first step is to find the "psychic Pokemon" called Kadabra and snatch
it from its telepathic, pink-eyed trainer, Sabrina. With the ghost Haunter on
his side, it should be a cinch!
But Ash had underestimated the power of his opponent. When he and Sabrina meet
for the battle, both hurl their chosen Pokemon into the air, but only Kadabra
evolves into a super-monster with a magic flash. Haunter hides. "Looks like your
ghost Pokemon got spooked," taunts Sabrina.
Obviously, Ash didn't understand the supernatural powers he had confronted. Neither
do most young Pokeman fans today. Unless they know God and His warnings, they
cannot understand the forces that have captivated children around the world. And
if parents underestimate the psychological strategies behind its seductive mass
marketing ploys, they are likely to dismiss the Pokemon craze as harmless fun
and innocent fantasy. In reality, the problem is far more complex.
A NEW LIFESTYLE
Pokemon mania supports a financial conglomerate that knows how to feed the frenzy.
The television series is free, but it drives the multi-billion dollar business.
It also inspires the obsessive new games that disrupt schools and families by
giving the children --
seductive vision: to become Pokemon masters
a tempting promise: supernatural
new objective: keep collecting Pokemon
urgent command: "gotta catch them all"
enticements are drilled into young minds through clever ads, snappy slogans, and
the "Pokeman rap" at the end of each TV episode:
will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Each Pokeman to understand
The power that's inside.
Gotta catch them all!"
The last line, the Pokemon mantra, fuels the craving for more occult cards, games,
toys, gadgets, and comic books. There's no end to the supply, for where the Pokemon
world ends, there beckons an ever-growing empire of new, more thrilling, occult,
and violent products. Each can transport the child into a fantasy world that eventually
seems far more normal and exciting than the real world. Here, evil looks good
and good is dismissed as boring. Family, relationships, and responsibilities diminish
in the wake of the social and media pressures to master the powers unleashed by
the massive global entertainment industry.
No wonder children caught up in the Pokemon craze beg for more games and gadgets.
The Japanese makers count on it. Since the means often justify the economic
ends in the entertainment industry, the Pokemon website is full of tips,
explanations, and ads that encourage the urge to splurge - and to express the
darker side of human nature. Ponder their influence:
"You can catch a Mew
by cheating with a Gameshark."
Ahhh. The Gameshark. . . Cheating is not honorable. But many of you have requested
and sent me this information, so I have put it up for all you cheaters."
"The Moon Stone evolves
certain Pokemon, such as Clefairy."
your desired attack. Hold down the button until your opponent's life stops draining."
you have captured Zapados, you can use it to quickly lower the health level of
Articuno. . . ."
Smash Brothers. . . . This unique fighting game features all of Nintendo's biggest
stars in a bruising brawl-fest . . . ."
While children delight in these mysterious realms, concerned parents worry and
wonder. What kinds of beliefs and values does the Pokemon world and its links
teach? Why the emphasis on evolution, supernatural power, and poisoning your opponent?
BELIEFS AND VALUES
started seeking answers after her son asked a typical question: "Mom, can I get
Pokemon cards? A lot of my friends from church have them." Much as she wanted
Matthew to have fun with his friends, she gave a loving refusal. Matthew's tutor
had already warned her that the Pokemon craze could stir interest in other kinds
of occult role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. At the time, she wondered
if the tutor had just over-reacted to some harmless entertainment. After all,
the cute little Pokemon creatures looked nothing like the dark demonic creatures
of D&D. But when she learned that a local Christian school had banned them
because of their link to the occult, she changed her mind.
Later, during a recent party for Matthew, Barbara heard two of the boys discussing
their little pocket monsters. One said, "I'll just use my psychic powers." Already,
the world of fantasy had colored his real world. So when some of the kids wanted
to watch the afternoon Pokemon cartoon on television, Barb again had to say "no."
It's not easy to be parents these days.
Cecile DiNozzi would agree. Back in 1995, her son's elementary school had found
a new, exciting way to teach math. The Pound Ridge Elementary school was using
Magic: the Gathering, the role-playing game called which, like Dungeons and Dragons,
has built a cult following among people of all ages across the country.
Mrs. DiNozzi refused to let her son participate in the "Magic club." But a classmate
gave him one of the magic cards, which he showed his mother. It was called "Soul
exchange" and pictured spirits rising from graves. Like all the other cards in
this ghastly game, it offered a morbid instruction: "Sacrifice a white creature."
'summon' mean?" he asked his mother after school one day.
Why do you ask?"
He told her that during recess on the playground the children would "summon" the
forces on the cards they collect by raising sticks into the air and saying, "'Spirits
enter me.' They call it 'being possessed.'" 5
Strange as it may sound to American ears, demonic possession is no longer confined
to distant lands. Today, government schools from coast to coast are teaching students
the skills once reserved for the tribal witchdoctor or shaman in distant lands.
Children everywhere are learning the pagan formulas for invoking "angelic" or
demonic spirits through multicultural education, popular books, movies, and television.
It's not surprising that deadly explosions of untamed violence suddenly erupt
from "normal" teens across our land.
Occult role-playing games teach the same dangerous lessons. They also add a sense
of personal power and authority through personal identification with godlike superheroes.
Though the demonic realm hasn't changed, today's technology, media, and multicultural
climate makes it easier to access, and harder than ever to resist its appeal.
AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ADDICTION
televised Pokemon show brings suggestions and images that set the stage for the
next steps of entanglement. It beckons the young spectator to enter the manipulative
realm of role-play, where fantasy simulates reality, and the buyer becomes a slave
to their programmer.
Remember, in the realm of popular role-playing games - whether it's Pokemon, Magic
the Gathering, or other selections -- the child becomes the master. As
in contemporary witchcraft, he or she wields the power. Their arm, mind, or power-symbol
(the pokemon or other action figure) become the channel for the spiritual forces.
Children from Christian homes may have learned to say, "Thy will be done," but
in the role-playing world, this prayer is twisted into "My will be done!"
God, parents, and pastors no longer fit into the picture fantasized by the child.
have warned that role-playing can cause the participant to actually experience,
emotionally, the role being played. Again, "the child becomes the master." Or
so it seems to the player.
Actually, the programmer who writes the rules is the master. And when the game
includes occultism and violence, the child-hero is trained to use "his" or "her"
spiritual power to kill, poison, evolve, and destroy -- over and over. Not only
does this repetitive practice blur the line between reality and fantasy, it also
sears the conscience and causes the player to devalue life. The child learns to
accept unthinkable behavior as "normal" .
To be a winner within this system, the committed player must know and follow the
rules of the game. Obedience becomes a reflex, strengthened by instant rewards
or positive reinforcement. The rules and rewards force the child to develop new
habits and patterned responses to certain stimuli. Day after day, this powerful
psychological process manipulates the child's thoughts, feelings, and actions,
until his or her personality changes and, as many parents confirm, interest in
ordinary family life begins to wither away.
You may have recognized those preceding terms as those often used by behavioral
psychologists. They point to a sophisticated system of operant conditioning or
behavior modification. The child must exercise his own intelligent mind to learn
the complex rules. But after learning the rules, the programmed stimuli produce
conditioned responses in the player. These responses become increasingly automatic,
a reflex action. Naturally, this can leads to psychological addiction, a craving
for ever greater (and more expensive) thrills and darker forces.
CAN PARENTS DO?
hard to teach restraint to children who are begging for gratification. Wanting
to please rather than overreact, we flinch at the thought of being called censors
once again. Parental authority simply doesn't fit the fast-spreading new views
of social equality taught through the media and schools. Yet, we must obey God.
He has told us to train our children to choose His way (Proverbs 22:6), and we
can't turn back now.
If you share my concerns, you may want to follow these suggestions. They will
help you equip your child with the awareness needed to resist occult entertainment:
1. First, look at God's view of contemporary toys, games and cartoons. As a family,
read Scriptures such as Ephesians 5:8-16, 6:10-18 (the armor of God); Philippians
4:8-9; and Colossians 2:9. Compare them with the values encouraged by Pokemon
and other role-playing games.
2. Share your observations. Spark awareness in a young child with comments such
as, "That monster looks mean!" or "That creature reminds me of a dragon," along
with "Did you know that in the Bible, serpents and dragons always represent Satan
3. To teach young children a Biblical attitude toward evil before they learn to
delight in gross, ugly characters, make comments such as, "Who would want to play
with that evil monster? I don't even like to look at him. Let's find something
that makes us feel happy inside."
4. Model wise decision-making. Tell your child why you wouldn't want to buy certain
things for yourself.
When your child wants a questionable game or toy, ask questions that are prayerfully
adapted to your child's age, such as:
1. What does this game teach you (about power, about magic, about God, about yourself)?
Discuss both obvious and subtle messages.
2. Does it have anything to do with supernatural power? If so, what is the source
of that power? Does it oppose or agree with God's Word?
3. What does it teach about violence or immorality and their consequences?
4. Does the game or toy have symbols or characteristics that link it to New Age
or occult powers?
5. Does it build godly character?
In a nation consumed with self-indulgence, self-fulfillment, and self-empowerment,
godly self-denial seems strangely out of place. But God commanded it, and Jesus
demonstrated it. Dare we refuse to acknowledge it? According to the age of your
child, discuss Jesus' words in Matthew 16:24-26, then allow the Holy Spirit to
direct your application.
Far more than earthly parents, God wants His children to be content and full of
joy. But He knows better than to give us all the things we want. Instead, He gave
us His word as a standard for what brings genuine peace and happiness. The apostle
Paul summarized it well:
things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians
After hearing God's warning and praying for His wisdom, nine-year-old Alan Brannan
decided to throw away all his Pokemon cards. "My friend did the same," said his
mother. "Her twelve year old son had been having nightmares. But after a discussion
with his parents about the game and its symbols, he was convicted to burn his
cards and return his Gameboy game. That night slept well for the first time in
seemed to us that these cards had some sort of power," continued DiAnna Brannan.
"Another nine-year-boy had stolen money from his mother's purse ($7.00) to buy
more cards. When questioned, he confessed and said he had heard the devil urging
him to do it. The family quickly gathered in prayer, then saw God's answer. Both
the boy and his little sister burned their cards, warned their friends, and discovered
the joy and freedom that only comes from following their Shepherd.
1. Laura Evenson, "Seeing
Red and Blue at Schools," San Francisco Chronicle, April 20, 1999.
2. http://www.pokemon.com and
(Apparently, the latter site has changed since I downloaded and printed
the original pages. Now, if you click on the above URL, you will probably face
a sign saying "The page you have requested can not be located." If so, just click
on the Wizard banner in the upper left corner, and you will enter the site. Notice
the links to "Magic: the Gathering" and "Dungeons and Dragons" on the right side.
However, the Pokemon rules seems to have disappeared.)
(See note above)
4. "Haunter versus Kadabra," aired on May 20, 1999.
5. Transcribed from a recorded interview with Cecile DiNozzi in Pound Ridge, New
to http://www.crossroad.to for the use of this article.
Communication Consortium, Inc.
P.O. Box 173 - Oak Creek, WI 53154
My son called me
on the phone recently and asked, "Dad, do you know anything about the kids' collector
card game Pokémon?" The reason he asked was because my oldest grandson,
who is 7 years old, came home with several of the cards he got from a friend at
church. He showed them to his dad and said his friends thought "they were really
cool." After looking at the few cards, his dad had a different opinion. Though
he could not put his finger on exactly what the problem was by looking at those
few cards, he definitely had an uneasy feeling about them. While he neither saw
nor read anything overtly evil on the cards, there were a couple of hints on them
that made him suspicious. He decided not to allow his son to get involved with
Pokemon until he looked into it further. This proved to be a wise decision. Here's
what I discovered.
History of Pokémon
name Pokémon is derived from pocket monster. Pokémon
has entertained Japanese youth since 1995. While it is rare for a Japanese cultural
phenomena to be duplicated in the Western world, Pokémon has proved to
be the exception. Pokémon has moved into the United States "BIG TIME" and
captured the minds of elementary aged children all over this country. Pokémon
Nintendo video games, cartoon shows on television, a movie,
comic books, toys, clothing, VHS videos, DVD's, and the wildly popular collector
card game. The Pokémon "virus" has infected virtually every media outlet
imaginable, and by plan, the "virus" has become an epidemic among elementary aged
children causing them to crave and beg for more Pokémon paraphernalia.
Countless elementary aged children are obsessed with Pokémon.
Pokémon By The Bible
apology, I acknowledge that I am writing this pamphlet from a biblical perspective.
And, I believe there is a battle going on for the minds of our children and grandchildren.
In fact, Satan and his diabolical hordes want to corrupt the minds of children
and adults as well! One of the problems is that Satan is getting the upper hand
because Christians are oblivious to the tactics the adversary is using to pollute
the minds of men, women, boys and girls. While many Christian adults would catch
blatant demonic doctrines, the truth is, Satan seldom mounts a direct assault.
Rather, he, through his human helpers, uses subtle, clandestine and deceptive
methods to advance his evil doctrines. So, how can we detect these deceptive methods
and evil doctrines? How can we protect our children and our-selves? The Bible
says, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
The Bible says, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31.
The Bible says, "
Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good."
Romans 12:9. Therefore, we must measure Pokémon paraphernalia by the principles
of the Bible to determine if it is acceptable. Let's do that.
values, beliefs, and philosophies does the game promote?
One of the first things
I did was to find out who produced the trading card game. Here is an exact quote
right from the Web page of the producer - "The Pokémon Trading Card Game
is a new collectable Card Game that is made and distributed by Wizards of the
Coast. The same company that made the best selling game ... Magic: The Gathering."
Magic: The Gathering is a heavily occult laced trading card game very popular
in the 1990's. I have a research report titled Beware of Magic:The Gathering
that can be viewed on the Logos Web page at
Oh yes, I should
mention that Wizards of the Coast also owns TSR, the producers of all the
Dungeons & Dragons materials. When I discovered who owned the American Pokémon
Trading Card Game rights, I knew the game was not just an innocent card game for
elementary school children.
I looked into the characters in the Pokémon video games, comics, cartoons,
movies, etc. What kind of values do they have? Ash Ketchum (a boy) is one of the
main characters. He is described as "an energetic and determined 10-year-old
little too competitive." He is obsessed with catching all Pokémon
and driven "to become the world's foremost Pokémon Master." Oh yes, you
can be sure that the Pokémon Rap song and mantra will be included in the
will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
The power that's inside.
Gotta catch them all!"
line of the Pokémon mantra, "Gotta catch them all!" is used over
and over again in Pokémon paraphernalia because it fuels the craving for
more cards, games, toys, gadgets, and comic books.
look at another character, Ash's companion Misty. She is described as "headstrong
constantly quibbling with Ash
and seems to
harbor deeper feelings for Ash." Then there is the third member of the trio, Brock
who is "by far the most hormonal. Brock's fascination with the opposite
sex many times gets him or the group into trouble, although he's yet to have
anything resembling a score." Let's take a look at Pokémon trainer Gary.
He is "a real jerk
self-centered, vindictive and obnoxious.
Then there are Jessie & James. Here is how they are described -- "Prepare
for trouble, make it double.... Jessie, James
are a mysterious and evil
gang looking to steal rare Pokémon. Jessie and James are stuck
up, fashion conscious, and prone to cross-dressing."
stubborn, quibbling, self-centered, vindictive, obnoxious, hormonal, sexually
preoccupied, evil, thieving, cross-dressing jerks are most definitely not biblical
role models! These characters do not portray biblical values. Pokémon does
not measure up!
Are supernatural powers portrayed,
and if so, what is the source or origin of those powers? Are occult, New Age characteristics
or symbols included?
has supernatural powers. "Some Pokémon grow, or evolve." This is facilitated
by the "Energy cards" that "make your Pokémon bigger and more powerful."
And what is the source of this power? It is the pantheistic power of the occult,
not the supernatural power of God. I have found two cards that make this very
clear (there are likely more). They are Abra and Kadabra. Yes, these
are their actual names. "Abrakadabra" (or abracadabra) has been a word long associated
with occult magic. Webster's dictionary defines it this way - 1) a word supposed
to have magic powers and hence used in incantations, on amulets, etc. 2) a magic
spell or formula. It is no accident that the two Pokémon called Abra
and Kadabra are psychic cards with magical powers.
the Abra card we read "Using its ability to read minds, it will identify
impending danger and teleport to safety." Then there are the occult symbols on
Kadabra. He has a pentagram on his forehead, SSS on his chest and he is
giving the Satanic salute with his left hand. All of the above have strong occult
significance. It is clear from the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) that we are neither
to participate in nor associate with activities related to the occult.
Some of the
readers will no doubt protest, "it's only a game!" To be sure it is a game, but
a game that does not glorify God! When God says something is wrong, it is wrong
regardless of what form it is in. Not only that, but many of the kids who play
this game are seduced into believing the principles that the game subtly
teaches. Here is but one example. In the booklet that comes with Pokémon,
note what is stated -- "Welcome to the world of Pokémon, a special place
where people just like you train to become the number-one Pokémon Master
in the World! But what is a Pokémon, you ask. ' Pokémon are incredible
creatures that share the world with humans,' says Professor Oak, the leading authority
on these monsters. There are currently 150 documented species of Pokémon.
. . . Each Pokémon has its own special fighting abilities. . . . Some grow,
or evolve, into even more powerful creatures.. . . Carry your pokemon with
you, and you're ready for anything! You've got the power in your hands,
so use it!"
kids are carrying around their Pokémon like a magic talisman. Author and
researcher Berit Kjos tells of a mom who overheard two boys discussing their little
pocket monsters. As the conversation developed one boy said, "I'll just use my
psychic powers." It was clear that the so called fantasy world of Pokémon
had already conditioned this boys thinking to be receptive to a key occult doctrine
- psychic powers!
promotes occult values, not biblical values and therefore should be rejected!
are the player's thoughts and imagination being directed?
I pointed out earlier
that Pokémon originated in Japan. What I did not draw to your attention
was that a Pokémon Master is a spin off of a martial arts master in Japan.
Pokémon Masters are the leaders of fighting schools or battling gangs that
solve their problems by beating their opponents. And how do they do this? Their
little booklet says, "Some attacks cause the Defending Pokémon to be Asleep,
Confused, Paralyzed, or Poisoned."
Bible warns us to be cautious about what we occupy our minds with (Proverbs 4:23).
The games a child plays, the television programs he watches, and the things that
he listens to have a powerful mind shaping influence over that child. Mental health
professionals are finally coming to understand what the Bible has said all along
-- the things you let into you mind shape your thinking and your thinking directs
your actions. This truth was acted out at the Columbine High school slaughter.
The shooters had saturated their minds with violent video games, Gothic death
music, and violent reading material. The result was on April 20, 1999, twelve
students and one teacher were murdered.
Pokémon influence the children who play it? I pray that it does not happen,
but I wonder how long it will be before a grade school child, tries to do what
is written on the Weepingbell - Razor Leaf Pokémon card. It says, "It
spits out poisonpowder to immobilize the enemy, and then finishes the enemy with
a spray of acid." Does this line up with what the Bible has to say about how
to handle our enemies in Romans 12:14-22? I Think not! It is clear that Pokémon
leads the player's imagination down the wrong path. The Bible says that we are
to abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good (Romans 12:9). Poisoning,
paralyzing, etc. your enemies is clearly evil and no one should occupy their minds
with such thoughts, game or no game. Our every thought is to be screened to be
sure Christ approves of it (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). If it does not line up, it
is to be rejected.
what's the problem with Pokémon? Its subtle suggestions, images and values
are manipulating the minds and feelings of the children who are into it. Pokémon
conditions them to accept humanistic wisdom and occult spirituality. Heavy involvement
in Pokémon blurs the player's ability to distinguish between fantasy and
reality and sears the conscience of the player as well. Pokémon is designed
to be a stepping stone to harder occult oriented games like Magic:The Gathering
and Dungeons and Dragons.
wants his children to have a completely different focus. We are even told where
our thoughts should be directed in Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things
are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are
of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any
praise, think on these things."
does not measure up!
I suggest the best place for Pokémon paraphernalia
is in the trash can!
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