Pokemon has inspired a new generation of geoscientists

Research has presented several advantages of using video games to teach science and even geoscience. This may not be surprising considering the vivid AI-powered visuals we can see in video games these days, showing the structures of landscapes in intricate detail. 

Can Pokemon really be educational? When we think of the creatures and landscapes of the Pokemon world, we may be surprised how this has inspired modern-day geologists over the years in a number of ways.
Pokemon on university campus.
Pokemon on university campus.

Pokemon is an imaginative world that seems to be connected to the natural elements, whether it be fire, water or earth. As Pokemon has not lost popularity over the decades, researchers suggest it may not be so "anti-educational" as some believe games like Pokemon tend to be.

Instead, Pokemon seems to have shared concepts about the world we live in to the youth, from the concept of evolution, to rock types, elements, principles of geology and the complexity of earth's landscapes. Adult geoscientists speaking out about how Pokemon has influenced them provide the proof.

From face value, we can see many rock-like characteristics of Pokemon, particularly "Geo-dude" who was one of the earliest Pokemon release by the franchise. But geology can also be appreciated through the landscapes of Pokemon's animations and computer games, particularly recent ones, like Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

Arceus takes players to a world of stunning geological landscapes

A paper published by European Geosciences Union (EGU) has highlighted how Arceus teaches about the geology and geomorphology of Hakkaido, Japan. But the game is set in a fictional landscape, Hisui, which is directly based on Hokkaido island, northern Japan (in the real-world). The paper shows that this game encompasses geological, morphological concepts across volcanology, geohazards, and even economic geology.

Authors Edward McGowan, field geologist at Leicester University and Lewis Alcott, lecturer of geochemistry at Bristol University (previously Yale) concluded: “From an educational standpoint, Pokémon Legends: Arceus could be used as a powerful tool to help students engage more in their learning by utilizing their natural affinity to the popular game and showcasing the many geological and geomorphological features found across the landscape of Hisui.”

Learning about origins of life on Earth through Pokemon games

In Switzerland, Craig Robert Walton of ETH Zurich who has a professorship for Isotope geochemistry, is exploring the origins of life on Earth. Pokemon inspired this research, Walton explains: “The earlier games often involved rocks and the way in which life and geology are connected. This idea echoes throughout my research,” Walton said.

ETH Zurich.

From his homeland in Scotland, the landscapes there also influenced Walton, who is exploring a novel method to try replicate the precise conditions in which life began on Earth. “To explore this possibility, I want to build miniature planetary landscapes inside glass jars,” Walton told ETH Zurich for their news release. He will conduct this research at ETH Zurich's Center for the Origin and Prevalence of Life, in the group led by ETH Professor Maria Schönbächler at the Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology.

Geoeducation courses online through Pokemon

While current academics are happy to talk about how Pokemon has influenced them in the academic community, there are others online who are merging Pokemon and geoeducational content to reach diverse audiences online.

A content creator on Outschool has even launched an online course called “Pokemon Science”, showing how the different rock types and minerals are exhibited in Pokemon, making geology accessible to new, younger generations. Elsewhere, a blogger has dedicated their blog series to the real-world geological phenomenons that rock-type Pokemon characters may be. For instance "Roggenrola", its origin at depth discussed, and even the types of minerals making up its body.

Other online creators have been outlining the different geoscientific inspirations of Pokemon. EDGE science eloquently explains the palaeontological aspects found within the Pokemon universe. Some of the original Pokemon, like Charmander and even the next level, Charizard, may have been influenced by the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex (T. Rex).

Pokemon is clearly not just a card game, or a series of computer games anymore, as it actually inspires young people to learn about the world and explore. This was the case at least for several geoscientists who have spoken out about how Pokemon influenced them to pursue geology in their careers.

Scroll to Top