Pop culture is filled with the remains of fads that disappeared as quickly as they skyrocketed to popularity. For every person who ever wasted their hard-earned cash on a Pet Rock or a Gremlin-inspired Furby, there is sure to be another craze just as mindless waiting around the corner.
But in the more than 25 years since it first made its debut, Pokémon and its franchise continues to prove that it is more than just a passing fancy. With millions of fans spanning the globe, Pokémon continues to appeal to the masses.
That dedication was on display as more than 210 hardcore fans - from as far away as Saskatchewan - packed Central City Shopping Centre last weekend to take part in the inaugural Pokémon Regional Championships.
The event in Surrey was one of eight regional tournaments where competitors in three age categories were vying for the right to qualify for the national title being held later this summer in Toronto. National winners will then have the opportunity to compete in the invite-only Pokémon U.S.
National Championships in Indianapolis next summer. A win at the national level and you'll need your best grass skirt for the 2012 Pokémon World Championships in Hawaii in August 2012, where participants from more than 25 countries across the world will gather.
Sandy More, organizer of the tournament in Surrey, was ecstatic to see such a strong turnout for the event in only its first year.
"We have a busload of people who made their way from Edmonton just to take part," noted More as she kept a close eye on the throngs of smiling faces.
"It's a real sense of community between players. The games are competitive, but not cutthroat. We have people who have been playing for years up against people who are taking part in their first tournament and really helping to make sure they have a good time."
More, whose own passion for the game stemmed from her son's involvement, said Saturday's portion of the tournament, which was free to enter, featured players using dice and a 60-card deck where characters Pokémon and Kyogre battle for health points and the chance to gather six prize cards to close out a match. The 30-minute games used a wide range of skills like math, making for more than just mindless entertainment.
Clare Materi, whose family plays avidly, agrees that the game has benefits outside of pure leisure.
"It's really helped with our kids studies," she explained, in between taking pictures of her daughter Rowan in front of a three-foot high Picachu. "It's been great for their math, reading and concentration."
Materi says she welcomes a game that encourages fair play.
"It keeps them off the street. There are a lot of worse things they can spend their money on. I scrapbook, they Pokémon," she said, laughing.
For seven-year-old Rowan, who has hundreds of her own cards, the attraction is simple.
"I like Pokémon because they are so cute." And you wonder why there is no Furby tournament.