I played those first couple of Pokemon games, back when we all thought it was actually called Pocket Monsters. In 1999 it was known as this heavily-hyped game from Japan, which was well on its way to becoming a phenomenon.
It had already been out over there for almost three years by the time it hit the UK - and we'd all heard the funny horror stories about an episode of the Pokemon animated TV series which had caused viewers to suffer epileptic fits.
I reviewed the first Pokemon on Digitiser, enjoying it as just another Japanese RPG, not realising that it might become something more, not quite getting the hype. It gripped me initially, for a week or two, but then my interest started to drift away. Because I'm always right about almost everything, I thought the rest of the world would do the same.
With hindsight, I accept I might have been wrong on that occasion.
It was just too repetitive - even when I've played the later games, I get frustrated that I can't just explore without having to engage in battle after battle. It's like walking through a town centre, and being assaulted every ten steps by somebody with a clipboard. When Pokemon Stadium came along - which was all battles - I actually tried throttling myself.
Nevertheless, it's undeniable that its importance is huge, its cultural impact is off the charts, and the absurd popularity of Pokemon Go proves that there's still plenty of life left in the concept.
To me, however, it has a very different significance.
When I was a kid, the first big words I could pronounce were the names of prehistoric creatures; Diplodocus, dimetrodon, parasaurolophus, ankylosaur, archaeopteryx...
For my middle daughter - who's 23 this month - it was the names of Pokemon.
And there's an irony in there somewhere, because, apparently, I always mispronounce the word "Pokemon" - and I'm an idiot for doing so.
Relatively recently, she was diagnosed with autism. Contrary to it being any kind of shock, it was simply a relief, for all of us - a confirmation of so much that I'd always suspected, but never quite been able to put a name to. She was always different to her two sisters, unfathomably gifted, searingly intelligent, but she seemed to struggle in other areas - when it came to social situations, or emotions.
It doesn't mean any of us think of her differently since the diagnosis - it isn't some label that has been slapped on her. It just means she can get the help she needs, now that she's an adult and her symptoms are so much more noticeable. The relief that she feels is palpable. She can be herself and let society fit around her, rather trying to crowbar herself into it, because that's what's expected of us.
She was a late developer, not learning to talk or tie her shoelaces until long after the age when her sisters could do so. She was always quiet compared to them, the archetypical "no bother" kid. What's more, she took an early interest in the sorts of things I enjoyed. I remember her coming into the bedroom one morning, peeling my eyelids open, and asking if I'd play Star Wars with her; "I'll be Boba Fett and you be Taffy."
Perhaps the first clear sign that she was somewhat different was when she was two or three. Her mother and I were sitting in McDonald's across from our beautiful daughter who hardly ever said a word, when her eyes rolled up into their sockets, and a hoarse, rasping voice, came out of her mouth: "DOMINATION. DOMINATION IN MY HEAD."
Somewhat startled, as I suspect anyone would be, I asked where she'd heard that phrase. She giggled, pointed to the ceiling, and said "Up there".
Admittedly, that might be more a sign of demonic possession than autism, but nevertheless, we knew from then that her gifts were not of the regular sort.
Strangely, though, she came to video games relatively late. The earliest I recall her taking an interest in them was from her sitting on my lap as I played them.
"Can I come and watch you play a game?" was a phrase she used almost daily. I'd give her a running commentary as I played, and she'd watch, rapt, taking it all in.
It was only as she got older that her mum and I grew more concerned. She had few friends, would lose herself in social media. She struggled at college, and then work. Being an adult is hard enough, but for her it seemed to be a particular ordeal.
Overt signs of affection never came easily for her, and she remains the only one of my kids who doesn't put a kiss at the end of text messages. She never says she loves me, which can be hard - but I've come to accept it as part of who she is, reading affection from her in different ways.
My partner and I started to read up on it several years ago, and when I finally put it to my daughter that I thought she might have autism, she admitted that she'd already been wondering it herself.
Those gaming sessions - me as player, her as audience - gave us a point of connection that I think we would have otherwise struggled to find.
Growing up - and still today - her biggest interests remain animals and Pokemon.
However many hundreds of Pokemon there now are, she can name every single one of them. She can tell you everything there is to know about their abilities, their type, their evolved and devolved forms.
And the best thing for me is that - while I may not have played a Pokemon game in years - it still gives us a touchstone, a point of reference. I get video games, just as she gets them, and through that we have a place where we crossover and get one another. She plays other games too - mostly Nintendo; Animal Crossing, Zelda, Smash Bros... but Pokemon is the one series that she always returns to, without fail.
Through her, and through her diagnosis, I've learned a lot. I recognise some of her traits in myself and others around me. It has shown me that not all of our quirks are learned; some of them are just hard-wired into us, are part of us. There's an expectation from society that we all fit into some predetermined ideal of "normal". To achieve that "perfection", so many of us are suppressing so much - some of us more than others.
My daughter's birthday is next week, and I'm still giving her Pokemon plushies, as I have done for almost every birthday and Christmas in the past two decades. And she's already playing Pokemon Go - going on two hour walks, where previously she'd been spending much of the day in her room. I cant wait to play it with her, just like we used to.
Though I'll probably still say the name wrong.
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