I Choose You, SDSU – Pokémon club flourishes

What started as a post on the social media app Yik Yak — calling for a meeting of Pokémon lovers — has evolved into a full-fledged Pokémon club, recognized by South Dakota State University.

Started by Emma Baier, a freshman mathematics major, president of the club and long-time Pokémon fan, the club became official when its constitution was approved at a Students’ Association meeting in fall 2015. 

Baier, along with Abby Vaz and Sarah Determan, are trying “to create a place where people can come and talk about their love of Pokémon and just be themselves without fear of judgement,” Baier said. 

Vaz and Baier have been fans of the game and TV show since middle school. Determan is the self proclaimed Pokémon aficionado of the group, having played since elementary school.

“My brother first taught me how to play in third grade. It was kind of a bonding experience. On rainy days we would play Pokémon games,” Determan said, a sophomore environmental science major.

Depending on the week, the club will either watch a Pokémon movie, discuss one of the many theories about Pokémon origins or have a tournament on the multiplayer online game called “Pokémon Showdown.” Winner of the tournament takes home the coveted gold Pikachu for the week. 

 

The club is centered around Pokémon, but the members plan events ranging from playing board games to celebrating holidays. Sometimes members will play Taboo or Apples to Apples. The club also celebrated Pi Day March 14.  

Members don’t have to be Pokémon masters or even know what Pokémon is to join. 

“We try to go the extra mile with bringing people in and not exclude them,” said Vaz, a freshman interior design major.

Despite the inclusiveness of the club, members have drawn negative attention on the social media app Yik Yak, most notably from a user named “redboot.” The user called them childish, told them to grow up and told them to drop out of the university.

“I think it comes from a social stigma,” Vaz said. “People feel like they need to shame people who enjoy things that they ‘shouldn’t’ be.” 

Whether or not the club faces more ridicule in the future, all three members are passionate about Pokémon and the club. 

“The reason I’ve stuck with this club so long, through all the hoops and paperwork, is because you automatically get to know everyone and bond over something most of us have played since we were children,” Baier said. 

The club meets every Monday at 7 p.m. in the Honors Hall basement.