Pokemon, Comics, and Nuzlockes

> “Courage”

For the last couple of months, I’ve been drawing an ongoing Pokemon comic based around a run of Soul Silver version, but with a twist. I’m using a popular self-imposed set of rules that people call “Hard Mode” or, referred to more commonly by the handle of the person who first popularized these rules, a “Nuzlocke.” There are only two rules:

  1. You can only catch the first pokemon you see in an area.
  2. If a pokemon’s HP reaches zero, you must release it. It is dead.

These rules change the game in so many ways. It entirely negates the game’s spoken goal, which is to collect as many pokemon as you can. You’re often stuck with a team of Rattatas and Pidgeys… And with the threat of losing your pocket monsters forever, you find new ways to love appreciate them. More than that, the way these rules were introduced to the world has changed the way people engage with them – Nuzlocke logged his run in the form of a comic, giving his pokemon names and personalities and a storyline to bring it all together. You can read the original “Pokemon Hard Mode” here.  Borne of this was an entire community of people who did the same, myself included.

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You can read my comic, “Courage,” on DeviantArt or on the dedicated Nuzlocke forums, where I juggle a network of readers and other artists who are undertaking similar projects.

> Changing the rules

The popularization of a Hard Mode for Pokemon games and, particularly, recording these playthroughs via comic or written story, is a very interesting phenomenon that couldn’t have happened without this concoction of current technology and attitudes regarding the shift from consumer to participant that we have today. Games, already being a form of participatory media, are being taken even further in the form of mods, hacks, and self-imposed rules like this – and further still through derivative works like comics, upon which entire communities can be built. I’ve even had some fanart drawn of my comic, which adds yet another layer of participation. This is a really beautiful network of media where the consumers are also the creators.

> Digital Artefact

My plan is to continue creating and sharing this comic as my digital artefact for BCM112. My goal for this project is to analyze layers of derivative works, the communication and sharing of communities built around them, and the upending of the creator -> consumer relationship. Starting this week, I will post four pages once or twice a week with an accompanying research work.

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