In the last couple of months I have started playing Pokemon with my oldest son. Having a back ground in playing card games such as Magic the Gathering and Star Wars TCG, I always looked forward to the day I could play a card game with him. What I have discovered is that it is an amazing experience. He takes to the game like a fish to water and asks me almost every evening if we can play. (which I gladly oblige him). Further more, the game teaches all kinds of other skills that I don’t think my son even realizes he is learning.
First of it teaches math, since the game is based around 2 Pokemon fighting each other there is an attack each one has that does damage to the other one. These abilities have modifiers on them there for it forces them to calculate the amount of damage each ability does. He does these in his head. Furthermore, he also is planning long term strategy on what he must do to beat me. If this then this, you can see the movements and calculations racing in his brain. It also forces him to verbalize what he wants to do. You can’t just sit back and expect the other player to know what you are going to do. This is also because the game does require a certain amount of finesse and explicitness to define how much damage you are doing to another Pokemon or to avoid looking as though you are cheating.
Lastly, the biggest skill I see when playing is a sense of game man ship. He is learning how to fight without getting angry, he is learning to lose fair and square. The longer we play the more this comes to the fore. He is learning that losing is not the end of the world, that it is just part of playing a game. If he didn’t want to lose then he should not play. From a few months ago where he would cry or tear up at losing to holding his own and shaking my hand if he loses I think that this game is teaching him a lot of valuable lessons.