It’s been a tough few months to be a Pokémon fan. Everywhere you look, there are arguments about the upcoming game and its limited Pokedex, and whether or not Game Freak is justified in its design decisions. Without a game to actually play, fans keep going at each other’s throats, either hurt by their inability to use their favorite monsters in the follow-up, or staunchly supportive of Game Freak’s limited resources. The situation even sparked a rumor that morale at Game Freak has been low.
Over the weekend, however, there was a brief sense of respite. A hashtag popped up, appropriately named #ThankYouGameFreak, where fans on Twitter got together to remind each other why they fell in love with the series in the first place in an effort to lift up Game Freak’s spirit. (Polygon cannot confirm whether the morale rumor is true, but it did play a role in why people chose to participate in the hashtag.)
The franchise, which spans TV shows, movies, games, and more, has changed lives everywhere. Sometimes, it’s brought people together. Other times, Pokémon has managed to help people through the toughest times in their lives.
Here are some of the best stories and fan art players have shared.
Without Pokémon I wouldn't have met my husband we both love these games so much and I'm eternally grateful that this franchise led me to love and happiness until the day I die #ThankYouGameFreak pic.twitter.com/Bony00xnv5— ☕️ELA (@TheCafeEla) November 11, 2019
#ThankYouGameFreak Needless to say Pokémon has been the biggest influence in my life. It inspired me to be an artist and has been a comfort through all my challenges. I’m grateful Pokémon continues to be here for me and for so many others. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Tvl7v0mCkZ— Matthew Tae Sung Kim (@taesungart) November 11, 2019
I basically owe my entire career to Pokemon. It's through my realistic takes on Pokemon that basically every art director has found me. Who would have thought me drawing Pokemon as a kid living in a trailer would have led me to success some day. #ThankYouGameFreak pic.twitter.com/YZgQALpPz7— RJ Palmer (@arvalis) November 9, 2019
#ThankYouGameFreak for creating the series that helped me as a kid to connect with my brother who has Aspergers, as it was one of the only things he was interested in. to this day we still do things like go to the Portland Retro Game Expo & look for pkmn collectables together pic.twitter.com/lnLmhXIomv— puppy waifu (@MegaNymphia) November 10, 2019
#ThankYouGameFreak for giving me friends when I had none. No matter how alone I felt at school I always knew my friends in the Pokémon world were there for me to take me on wonderful adventures where I could just be myself. I wouldn’t be who I am today without Pokémon. pic.twitter.com/jh9Or4f4Gj— ℂ ✨ (@GayBoyColor) November 9, 2019
#ThankYouGameFreak Your games helped me survive the hardest years of my life and taught me how to problem solve, strategize, explore, appreciate nature, and connected me to thousands of people when I felt the most alone. I wouldn't be who I am today without Pokemon for sure. pic.twitter.com/4JrG0LAft1— Tama (@TamashiiHiroka) November 9, 2019
Without Pokémon I’d be probably boring & straight #ThankYouGameFreak— Dallas MacDermant (@theSupremeRk9s) November 9, 2019
#ThankYouGameFreak You helped me learn how to read, get into anime and RPGs, meet new friends over link cables, and got me through the rough days growing up. You lit a fire-type passion for gaming within me and I’m a much better person for it.— balrog (@BalrogGameRoom) November 9, 2019
Can’t wait for Sword and Shield! pic.twitter.com/aOxArdjNV9
The hashtag proved so popular that it briefly started trending, allowing the word to reach Game Freak’s offices. The Pokemon makers responded to the outpouring of love with more kindness.
Thank you, everyone!— 増田順一@GAME FREAK inc. (@Junichi_Masuda) November 11, 2019
Wow...#ThankYouGameFreak is trending all over the world!— James Turner (@JamesTurner_42) November 10, 2019
It’s lovely reading all of your kind messages. And it’s lovely to hear that so many of you are looking forward to the launch of #PokémonSwordAndShield next week!! We’re all excited too!
Sending the love back at you pic.twitter.com/T2XzRypci2
Unfortunately some people have taken this occasion to inject some toxicity into the hashtag, with some Tweets “reminding” people of the apparent shortcomings of a game that the public hasn’t played yet. But, for the most part, it’s a love-fest — and a much needed one after all the constant slap fights.