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Can Pikachu die? Online fan conspiracy theories and the Pokémon gaming universe

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Pokémon, Nintendo’s globally recognized transmedia video game franchise, has an established international fan community. Regular releases of new toys, games, trading cards, books, television series, and feature length films introduce new characters, creatures and extend the Pokémon narrative universe. Although, a consideration of the transmedia aspects of the Pokémon franchise is important, this paper focuses more on the relationship between the narrative (the story of Ash’s travels meeting new characters and pokémon) and an ever-growing and creative fan culture online. I explore how fans use the narrative structure of the games and television series to create their own fanfic to fill in blanks and gaps in the backstories of characters and develop their own theories behind mysteries surrounding different versions of the games. The prevalence and popularity of these conspiracy theories suggest that fans are in a constant struggle to seek some sort of control over the Pokémon story, finding understanding within the universe of the games. While the Pokémon canon is expanded and routinely added to with new characters and regions created for new games, fan created content and conspiracy theories serve to weave a more complex narrative web that highlights the importance of fan agency within the gaming community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-20
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Fandom Studies
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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