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Pokémon’s creators are divided on whether to use nicknames

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Should you nickname your pokémon? Developer Game Freak has given players that choice since the beginning of the series, but it’s still a point of contention within the community. My colleagues over at Polygon asserted that nicknames should be a requirement; I disagree whole-heartedly. Even within Game Freak, opinions differ.

Longtime Pokémon developer, director, and Psyduck fan Junichi Masuda tells The Verge that he almost always names his pokémon. During this particular trip to New York, he says, he’s even nicknamed a few captured Psyducks “Psyduck NYC.” “Most of my nicknames are more about playing with the characters to sound like a fun little nickname,” he adds.

And then there’s Pokémon: Let’s Go developer Kensaku Nabana, who has a different take. “As a fan, I’ve been playing the games since the beginning, I’ve never really given my pokémon nicknames,” he says. “But the reason for that because in the animated series, Ash never nicknamed his pokémon.”

I fall somewhere in the middle. I also grew up watching the TV show, and Ash’s resistance to naming his own pokémon stuck with me. But the hardest sell for me was always the inability to change a traded pokémon’s name. It’s one thing to name your new pal something with personal meaning; it’s much less special when your friend trades you a shiny Bulbasaur with the name “Fred.”

Still, Masuda makes a strong point. “Please, give them nicknames,” he says. “You wouldn’t call your cat or dog ‘Cat,’ ‘Dog.’”