April 21, 2021

Pokémon Translator Says That Games Can Help Kids Feel Smart In An Education System That’s Failing Them


Professor OakProfessor Oak

We’re tired of the takes that say that kids are playing too many games. Of course we are – we literally wouldn’t have jobs at Nintendo Life if we hadn’t spent way too many hours on Zelda, Mario, and friends. But there are still people out there who can see games for what they are: potential tools for children to explore, learn, and grow.

Doug Dinsdale is a game translator who’s worked on Pokémon, Dragon Quest, Yakuza, and many more games. His real name is Nob Ogasawara, and he’s likely the person who the Pokémon team named the Black Belt Pokémon Trainer “Nob” after. He took to Twitter yesterday to air a grievance he has with people who don’t think their kids are smart, even when they show great ability through their love of games.

He goes on to say that he’s had messages from people who learned to read English just so they could play his official Pokémon translations, and that if Ring Fit Adventure can use a video game rewards system to encourage people to exercise, then there’s no reason that educational institutions shouldn’t already be trying to game the system.

“Why not use Pokémon breeding rates and such to explain genetics?” asks Dinsdale. “Pokémon battle damage calculators can be easily applied for teaching percentages, or polynomial equations,” he adds, with the following example (which you can solve in the comments, if you like):

3 Dodrio + 5 Dugtrio + 4 Doduo = How many heads?
3 (X = Dodrio = 3 hd) + 5 (Y = Dugtrio = 3 hd= X) + 4 (Z = Doduo = 2 hd) = Total

It’s an interesting point, well made, and no doubt many of you have seen it in action. Ask a kid to learn calculus, and you’ll end up with one crying child and a lot of wasted time. But ask a kid who’s really into Pokémon about IV stats and you’ll get a huge load of information dumped on you. Children’s minds are squishy, malleable, and capable of holding all sorts of knowledge about things they really care about – why not use that to help them learn something they don’t care about as much?

“Slavish adherence to the educational orthodoxy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to the education needs of the people,” Dinsdale says. “I mean, I’m not advocating for school libraries to start stocking Pokémon… we’re already in the Smithsonian, my life is complete.”

Have you met, raised, or heard about a kid who’s a wiz at Pokémon, can name Yu-Gi-Oh cards off the top of their head, or figured out how to mod Breath of the Wild at age four? Tell us your stories in the comments.


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