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Thread: Pokémon Theory - The Morality of Trainer Battling and the Poké Ball

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    Default Pokémon Theory - The Morality of Trainer Battling and the Poké Ball

    While the anime has various factors detailing the history of the Poké Ball, the game series has yet to go deep into the history of it. So far, all we know is that the original Poké Balls were made with apricorns.

    Considering the huge moral division regarding Poké Balls and trainer battling, both in the games and in real life, it would help to understand just why both of these exist, and why pokemon seem unaffected by it. I would like to present my theory on the subject, and open it to discussion for everyone.



    I. THE POKÉ BALL

    There have been questions raised about if the Poké Ball is immoral, by both real and fictional people. In Pokémon Black & White, character N labels Poké Balls as tools for coercion. In the YouTube web series The Dex, hosts Alex and PokéKellz acknowledged the possibility of Poké Balls being immoral. Well, why do people have them? Why are characters in the games so dependent upon them?

    1. Protection

    The phrase, "It's dangerous to go out alone without a Pokémon!" is a commonly heard phrase throughout the course of the series. A common reason stated for why it's dangerous is the fact that wild pokemon jump out of the grass. This poses the possibility that the Poké Ball was created to protect people from wild pokemon. In the game, a wild pokemon can jump out at any given time, and in most cases, they will attack incessantly. As perpetuated, the average human can be badly hurt by any pokemon. However, by capturing the attacking pokemon, a human would be able to survive an attack. This places the Poké Ball into a position of high priority, simply for the sake of people keeping themselves alive. Protection is perhaps the most likely reason for the creation of the Poké Ball. However, why do people who don't travel wild areas still have them?

    2. Comfort and Safety

    It wouldn't be sensible to not take the pokemon's state into account. It has been mentioned many times throughout the series that people and pokemon have worked together since, like, forever. Prior to the advancement of human civilization, the need for containment surely wasn't as necessary. However, in the modern world, pokemon can't just go running about in cities by the thousands. That, too, can be dangerous. Thus, the Poké Ball is likely utilized in cities and towns for the safety of humans and pokemon alike. In the games, we often only see small pokemon outside of Poké Balls in a city or town. A larger pokemon outside of a Poké Ball is usually helping humans in some sort of endeavor, such as Machoke helping moves boxes and furniture. There may be city (or region) ordinances making it mandatory for pokemon to remain in Poké Balls unless under certain conditions. Much like keeping certain animals caged or leashed in real life, the mandate of Poké Balls ensures the safety of all citizens and their pokemon within a given area.



    II. TRAINER BATTLING

    As with the Poké Ball, trainer battling has had its moral parameter questioned, most notable in Pokémon Black & White. However, in real life, many have criticized the Pokémon games as being 'supernatural **** fights.' However, in the games trainer battling generally seems to be a mutual and well understood sport, by both humans and pokemon. The question here is, how?

    1. Battling is Natural

    There have been examples within the games implying that battling is natural for pokemon, possibly a form of comradeship. In Pokémon Emerald's Battle Frontier, the Battle Palace has pokemon battle on their, without any discretion from their trainers. The same is seen in the Verdanturf Battle Tent, also in Pokémon Emerald. In these battles, the pokemon fight freely, using their own judgment to decide orders of attack. Even more so, how they fight depends on the individual pokemon's Nature. This shows that every pokemon, both wild and otherwise, is capable of battling on their own. So, why are there trainer battles?

    2. The Virtue of Trust

    Perhaps the most common theme within the Pokémon franchise is trust. Parents, gym leaders, and Champions, and professors are stress how important it is for a pokemon to trust their trainer. This is likely because that is the whole point of trainer battling: the sport of battles at the trainer's discretion. Unlike natural battles, where the pokemon are battling freely, in trainer battles the pokemon takes direction from their human trainer. In order for this to succeed, the pokemon must put all of their trust into their trainer, believing he/she can make the right judgment calls. This explains why a pokemon who faints grows unhappy; they regret having trusted their trainer. The utilization of trust and trainer discretion in trainer battling clearly shows the distinction between trainer battling and natural battling, thus removing the possibility of trainer battling being immoral. Or does it?



    Not every aspect of trainer battling and the Poké Ball can be covered, and there are still examples that may pose a possibility of either of them bearing an immorality factor. This is where I leave it to you all. Feel free to discuss what may be the most taboo subject for any Pokémon fan.
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    I completely agree with everything you had to say. Nothing bugs me more than when some claims that Pokemon is just animal abuse. If any of those people knew even the most basic concepts of Pokemon, they wouldn't be making such claims. I think the most major thing to realize is that if Pokemon didn't want to battle, they wouldn't, as is sometimes seen in the show, and also shown when a traded Pokemon refuses to listen. This demonstrates that if they don't want to battle, they don't have to.

    Join Ash and Pikachu as they travel to the Tenno Region, a region known for its advanced space program and technology. Along their way towards the Tenno League and becoming a Pokémon Master they'll encounter new Pokémon, new enemies, such as the evil Team Planetary, and, of course, a certain trio of Team Rocket members, with friends new and old.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bguy7 View Post
    I completely agree with everything you had to say. Nothing bugs me more than when some claims that Pokemon is just animal abuse. If any of those people knew even the most basic concepts of Pokemon, they wouldn't be making such claims. I think the most major thing to realize is that if Pokemon didn't want to battle, they wouldn't, as is sometimes seen in the show, and also shown when a traded Pokemon refuses to listen. This demonstrates that if they don't want to battle, they don't have to.
    I also remember how pokemon at certain levels won't listen to you, which is why badges are necessary. Free will is very much expressed in the games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrinceOfFacade View Post
    I also remember how pokemon at certain levels won't listen to you, which is why badges are necessary. Free will is very much expressed in the games.
    This is why I get annoyed to no end when people call Pokémon 'slaves'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TamagoSan View Post
    This is why I get annoyed to no end when people call Pokémon 'slaves'.
    I won't lie, there are certain cases where that would sound accurate.

    For example, people in the game freely and remorselessly trade pokemon, almost as if they're objects, rather than living beings. I've yet to find a moral explanation for that one.
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    Actually, the biggest question that comes to my mind is that how could trainers catch and trade hundreds of Pokémons and change their team at will "freely and remorselessly" as said above. I started thinking of this last year when a concept for a Pokémon comic sprouted in my mind (but since I suck at drawing, it is still a concept!); would the main caracter stick to the same 6-Poké team forever? I mean he has to: he would grow close to them and become like a second family. How could anyone just box away some of their best friend and replace them with a freshly caught Mega-Garchomp, because "Oh so Uber, gonna kill E4 brb".

    At least the concept of Nuzlocke changes this by making every Pokémon caught a one-of-a-kind, so the trainer can actually feel some kind of connection with his team members, and will usualy refuse to let them go just because of this virtual bond.

    I think that the trainers in the anime show are moraly acting closer to a Nuzlocke than to a regular game playthrough, and that would explain why Ash & friends always stick to the same team all season long, even if they might not be the best available. (Could you imagine Ash boxing Pikachu after getting a new one? "Meh, it has better IVs and this one accepts thunderstones, what's not to like!")

    Sentimental value.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PokeLys View Post
    Actually, the biggest question that comes to my mind is that how could trainers catch and trade hundreds of Pokémons and change their team at will "freely and remorselessly" as said above. I started thinking of this last year when a concept for a Pokémon comic sprouted in my mind (but since I suck at drawing, it is still a concept!); would the main caracter stick to the same 6-Poké team forever? I mean he has to: he would grow close to them and become like a second family. How could anyone just box away some of their best friend and replace them with a freshly caught Mega-Garchomp, because "Oh so Uber, gonna kill E4 brb".

    At least the concept of Nuzlocke changes this by making every Pokémon caught a one-of-a-kind, so the trainer can actually feel some kind of connection with his team members, and will usualy refuse to let them go just because of this virtual bond.

    I think that the trainers in the anime show are moraly acting closer to a Nuzlocke than to a regular game playthrough, and that would explain why Ash & friends always stick to the same team all season long, even if they might not be the best available. (Could you imagine Ash boxing Pikachu after getting a new one? "Meh, it has better IVs and this one accepts thunderstones, what's not to like!")

    Sentimental value.
    An interesting thing to that, though, is the fact that players never start a game thinking about EVs, IVs, and competitive strategies. They play simply for fun, which is in the end the whole point of any video game. I know I get attached to my teams pretty easily, usually the team of my first run. I've done six runs so far in X, and I still have my very first team, boxed away, because I refuse to get rid of it.

    Aside from all that, I do get what you're saying. The fact that characters in the game freely and remorselessly catch and trade pokemon does seem a bit barbaric. To be honest, it has always bothered me how Shauna insists every pokemon she catches will be her friend. It was almost psychotic. lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by PrinceOfFacade View Post
    The fact that characters in the game freely and remorselessly catch and trade pokemon does seem a bit barbaric.
    I guess, especially legendaries. They're used to balance out the Pokémon world and (mostly) keep order, but some guy's keeping them essentially locked up where they're useless.
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    Well we can see (game and TV) that sometimes a Pokémon will just join and follow people, without them being officially caught in a ball (or absolutely wanting to be caught, as Yvetal/Xerneas).
    Could we say that some Pokés love the company of humans? Catching and training would not really be wrong if that's the case.
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    Maybe I'm pathetic for this, but I actually grow attached to my Pokemon. I only catch ones that I know I will use, and I actually feel like a develop a bond with them. When it comes time to replace a Pokemon on my team, which I do rarely, I do it with remorse, and I retire them with honors to a special box reserved for retired team members.

    I feel like the average player of Pokemon isn't meant to be the meter stick by which we measure the average trainer's attachment to their Pokemon. Look at the anime or important recurring trainers from games, and they stick with a standard team that barely changes, with only a few minor exceptions. Those seem to be the way that most trainers are expected to act towards their Pokemon, not just "catching 'em all" and shoving most of them into the PC.

    Join Ash and Pikachu as they travel to the Tenno Region, a region known for its advanced space program and technology. Along their way towards the Tenno League and becoming a Pokémon Master they'll encounter new Pokémon, new enemies, such as the evil Team Planetary, and, of course, a certain trio of Team Rocket members, with friends new and old.
    Check it out!

    Also, for an enhanced reading experience, news, reviews, insights into Luna, Terra, and Sol Versions, and special features like a Tenno Region Pokédex listing all of my custom Pokémon, complete with pictures, visit the Pokémon Cosmic Quest Official Website.

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    I always imagined Pokéballs as little houses, with lots of fun activities for the pokémons, with beds, computers, video game consoles, and they can decorate it.



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    Quote Originally Posted by cantavanda View Post
    I always imagined Pokéballs as little houses, with lots of fun activities for the pokémons, with beds, computers, video game consoles, and they can decorate it.
    In the manga, I believe that pokemon are portrayed as just sitting in the pokeball, which is barely large enough for them.
    I understand why people would like to think that, though. I think of it like that myself.

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    Honestly, i think Gen 5 should've made it clear that pokemon battles are not wrong. The story should've explained that pokemon battling is beneficial for both of them and that the pokemon doesn't have to do what his trainer says, but instead the story made the battles look even worse by saying that the pokeball is kind of a brainwashing device.

    GF could've simply said that humans and pokemons needed each other because humans can make things like potions and they can also help them to evolve and become stronger while humans need pokemons for protection. GF should've also stated that a pokemon can get out of his pokeball if he doesn't want to be there and that the pokemons can disobey their trainers if they want to (which is technically canon according to the games mechanic, but game freak just ignored this with the Purrloin's storyline).

    Instead GF thought it would be better to make an ambiguous story that it makes seem like pokemon battling might or might not be wrong. Yeah that's the way to go, saying that pokemon battles might be animal abuse is obviously the best way to make people like the series.
    Last edited by Xuxuba; 24th February 2015 at 8:51 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PrinceOfFacade View Post



    The phrase, "It's dangerous to go out alone without a Pokémon!" is a commonly heard phrase throughout the course of the series. A common reason stated for why it's dangerous is the fact that wild pokemon jump out of the grass. This poses the possibility that the Poké Ball was created to protect people from wild pokemon. In the game, a wild pokemon can jump out at any given time, and in most cases, they will attack incessantly. As perpetuated, the average human can be badly hurt by any pokemon. However, by capturing the attacking pokemon, a human would be able to survive an attack. This places the Poké Ball into a position of high priority, simply for the sake of people keeping themselves alive. Protection is perhaps the most likely reason for the creation of the Poké Ball..
    And yet in HeartGold/SoulSilver Prof.Elm states that before Poke Balls were invented,everyone used to walk with Pokemon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KyogreThunder View Post
    And yet in HeartGold/SoulSilver Prof.Elm states that before Poke Balls were invented,everyone used to walk with Pokemon.
    I'm sure the consensus was pokemon they were close to, not wild pokemon.
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    I remeber way back in the day when I played blue version. I admit I caught pokemon and boxed them, but every once in awhile, every pokemon came out and we battled together, whether it was the elite 4 or wild pokemon. I switched my teams frequently, but everyone got a turn to battle and came back out out of the box. Charizard became my favorite pokemon because he was my starter and we formed a tight bond. I can't remember a gym he didn't go into and participate in. To be honest I never knew charizard was popular until five years ago (boy where have I been). I remember taking butterfree to the elite 4, a B-U-T-T-E-R-F-R-E-E. Why did I do it? I wanted a challange and I wanted my buddy to be apart of that challange. Do I still for special teams to get certain tasks done? Yes, but they do come back out and see the light of day, battle, and just travel with me. Do I catch them all? Yes I do but when I don't play with a pokemon anymore I look for a home for it. Speaking of which if anyone wants some free pokemon I have some that need good homes (I don't like to release pokemon).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xuxuba View Post
    Honestly, i think Gen 5 should've made it clear that pokemon battles are not wrong. The story should've explained that pokemon battling is beneficial for both of them and that the pokemon doesn't have to do what his trainer says, but instead the story made the battles look even worse by saying that the pokeball is kind of a brainwashing device.

    GF could've simply said that humans and pokemons needed each other because humans can make things like potions and they can also help them to evolve and become stronger while humans need pokemons for protection. GF should've also stated that a pokemon can get out of his pokeball if he doesn't want to be there and that the pokemons can disobey their trainers if they want to (which is technically canon according to the games mechanic, but game freak just ignored this with the Purrloin's storyline).

    Instead GF thought it would be better to make an ambiguous story that it makes seem like pokemon battling might or might not be wrong. Yeah that's the way to go, saying that pokemon battles might be animal abuse is obviously the best way to make people like the series.
    Pokémon Black & White was definitely ambiguous in the morality behind trainer battling. However, I think it was most confusing for those who were fairly new to the series.

    I've been playing the games since '98, and the more I played them, the more I understood the point behind trainer battling. I did take a while longer for me to understand the point of the Poké Ball, though.

    I still can't wrap my head around trading. I don't think I'll ever figure that one out.
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    I agree, although I'll always think about it in the back of my head.
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    as Tamashii said, Pokemon is more like supernatural boxing, where when there hp hits zero, they are done. They dont ever have any lasting effects after being revived, dont age, and dont die, at least in the games


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    Quote Originally Posted by MegaCameruptFTW View Post
    as Tamashii said, Pokemon is more like supernatural boxing, where when there hp hits zero, they are done. They dont ever have any lasting effects after being revived, dont age, and dont die, at least in the games
    Well, the player's pokemon do not die, but there have been examples of pokemon both dying and being killed.
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    For me, this whole argument loses its credibility when you consider some Pokemon are as intelligent as supercomputers and can shoot various flavors of lightning out of their bodies.
    If they hated the whole business, they'd probably just eat their trainers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonguetyd View Post
    For me, this whole argument loses its credibility when you consider some Pokemon are as intelligent as supercomputers and can shoot various flavors of lightning out of their bodies.
    If they hated the whole business, they'd probably just eat their trainers.
    They aren't smart enough to destroy the Poke Ball,though.

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    Mind to remind you guys. In the real-life world, even a domesticated dog (especially the large ones) still possess ability to kill a human being. But it doesn't do so not because it is not intelligent enough to do so, but it was because it was bounded by a thing called society ethic (this is debatable though) imposed by its owner.

    And in reality, many pets that dislike their owner do not obtain freedom by simply killing their owner, but by simply fleeing off when there is a chance.

    So, if I have to compare Pokeball in the ethically equivalent terms of being the real-life bird cages or other animal cages, than the morality doesn't lie in the sole existence of Pokeball, but on the human him/herself that utilizes the Pokeball.
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    Too many comments, won't bother...

    Personally, i think that the games and show should NOT be related since they don't follow the same mechanics and storyline, and are different worlds.

    Personally, i think that pokemon battling is kind of harmful, which is hidden by the fact that the game imposes a very 'be friendly' morale, say, how can a level 1 pokemon even agree to battle a level100 one, its nonsense! Traded pokemon, at high levels do that, but how can someone let a baby (here means small) level 1 pokemon to fight? It's ridiculous, since even babies understand that they can not fight something so huge, and thus cry. But pokemon, nah, they have to fight, have to win, have to faint. Nuzlockes are kind of misleading because pokemon DIE, which is far beyond what is to be true, and no body in their right mind (in real life) would ever train a pokemon just to let it die, not even naturally. Though all this is hidden, i hardly catch pokemon except my team of six, the dex catching ones, i release immerdiately afterwards. Also, i don't get trading pokemon, are they objects? No, they are animals of the pokemon world, where trading of animals IS in animal cruelty (vaguely).

    As for the anime, we see Paul mistreating his pokemon, which is a big factor of animal abuse, even though Ash proves him wrong by raising it into an infernape. Also, don't you think that SOME pokemon don't like pokemon battling (find it painful, or whatever)? None of the ones you caught? High levelled pokemon are a different issue, since they grew levels by battling anyway, but what about WILD low levelled ones? Won't any of them like to not battle/support non-violence, it's kind of unrelated to the trainers trust since they HAVE to battle regardless, but i personally have no reasoning for this. Do you?
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    If I go for a real-life comparison, lion cubs won't get to hunt the big preys because they are still too small. But they will start training at a very young age by fighting each other every day until they have the ability to chase and catch tonight's meal. This could be viewed as level 3 zigzagoons fighting in the wild until they get strong enough to survive; no need to wait for a passing trainer to toast them down with a level 100 Volcarona.

    But enough with real-life, because we all know the Pokémon world is not the same and has different morality than ours.

    It has been showed that Pokémons like to battle, obviously not to the death, but they will fight each other when they can, either on their own or with a trainer on their side. They eventually will fire armageddon-grade lasers at each other's face, which may seems a "bit" rough by our human standards, but it is nature the way it is (in that alternate world at least). Surely there is animal abuse (Team Rocket & co. went pro on this), but can we say that training Pokémons is wrong for everyone? I don't think so.

    And beside, I quite agree with the poster who said that an unhappy Pokémon would be most likely to run away from his trainer. For the others, they seem to enjoy human company enough to stay with their trainer, Pokéball or not.
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