At first glance, Bitcoin and Pokemon have absolutely nothing in common. But once you get over the initial dismissal and start paying more attention to fine details, you’re bound to be struck by Pikachu’s Thunder attack and get inspired.
This article takes a look at the various similarities between Bitcoin and Pokemon, and then considers a bunch of Bitcoin narratives that can be described in relation to 11 popular creatures from the Kanto, Johto, and Hoenn regions.
Ultimately, the parallel drawn between the two universes can help Pokemon fans understand Bitcoin and vice-versa.
Both Bitcoin and Pokemon are created by individuals named Satoshi
What were the odds? Two of the most popular inventions among millennials were created by people whose first name is Satoshi. In the case of the popular game and animation franchise, we’re speaking of Satoshi Tajiri. In Bitcoin’s situation, it’s the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto.
Both of them have played major roles in designing the initial concepts and receive a significant amount of credit for the contributions they brought in their fields of expertise.
Also, both Satoshi Tajiri and Satoshi Nakamoto lend their first names to their main characters. In the 1996 Pokemon Red and Green video game and in the Japanese version of the anime (as well as several manga series), the name of the protagonist is Satoshi (translated Ash Ketchum for Western audiences).
In the case of the Bitcoin Network, the smallest monetary unit is the satoshi (1/100.000.000 of a bitcoin, or 0.00000001 BTC). Yet as opposed to the case of the Pokemon universe, the name wasn’t included by the creator himself.
Instead, it was the community that voted in late 2010 for both the unicode symbols and the denominations. Bitcoin Talk forum user ribuck is the first to propose the satoshi as a smaller unit of the bitcoin.
Both Bitcoin and Pokemon were built on top of computer networks
As you should know by now, Bitcoin is the currency of the internet. It takes advantage of an infrastructure of interconnected computers and builds a protocol which allows anyone to exchange value without the permission and oversight of a third party.
But Pokemon was also created to take advantage of a peer to peer network. One day, Satoshi Tajiri saw some kids connecting the Game Link Cable to their Gameboys to play cooperatively. He then came up with the idea of a game where the characters themselves become tradeable assets for players. The story goes that he visualized creatures crawling through the cable to appear on the other Gameboy.
And the charm of playing Pokemon games has always been that of exchanging cute monsters between players. It took Tajiri six years to make his idea happen, but when it got released it single-handedly extended the lifespan and relevance of the otherwise obsolete Gameboy system.
Pokemon’s popularity is largely owed to the large number of Nintendo Gameboy system sales. Yet the revolution brought by Tajiri’s concept was the ability to play cooperatively while exchanging in-game assets. He brought social and possibly monetary value to in-game Pokemon and laid the foundation for future microtransactions for virtual items.
Bitcoin was built on top of the internet, while Pokemon was created to take advantage of the Gameboy’s networking capabilities.
Explaining Bitcoin in 11 Pokemons
After we established that the two founding Satoshis have a lot in common, it’s time to get to the spicy part of this article. Bitcoin is generally difficult to understand and can take a few years to master (only to discover other ramifications of the rabbit hole to keep you busy).
This is why community members have created practical comparisons and narratives: they help newcomers and also simplify explorations so much that they can be included in tweets.
Depending on who you ask, Bitcoin is:
- a once in many lifetimes phenomenon (Entei);
- a beautiful software innovation (Porygon);
- a power-hungry store of value (Snorlax);
- a game for whales (Wailord);
- a protocol undergoing ossification (Cubone);
- the first and true mascot of its kind (Pikachu);
- a resilient honeybadger (Linoone);
- a slow organism (Slowpoke);
- a ghostly entity that governments can’t touch (Misdreavous);
- a rare and sophisticated machine that’s created by cypherpunks in a secret lab (Mewtwo);
- a toxic community (Koffing);
1. Bitcoin is a rare beast like Entei
Entei is the epitome of noble dominance. He is gentle, strong, and extremely rare. As a matter of fact, a new Entei gets born only when a new volcano appears. And when the mystical creature roars, a random volcano around the world erupts.
Some of these characteristics of the legendary Pokemon are also applicable to Bitcoin. For instance, the dream of exchanging an immaterial kind of asset which has value yet can’t be physically confiscated or censored has existed for centuries. Yet governments and banks have crushed every previous attempt at creating a better form of money.
In this regard, Bitcoin is a once-in-many-generations opportunity to liberate ourselves from the monetary slavery imposed by our rulers. Something like Bitcoin appears just as often as volcanoes are born – possibly once a millennium.
And when Bitcoin roars, the whole financial system shakes and gets disrupted in unexpected ways. Just take a look at a BTC price chart during a bull market.
2. Bitcoin is a superb piece of software like Porygon
According to its Pokedex description, Porygon is created entirely from programming code. It’s an unlikely invention which exists both in the cyberspace and in the physical world, and can make use of computer technology to travel across large distances.
Interestingly, the Porygon is hard coded to prevent duplication and preserve the uniqueness of each specimen.
Likewise, Bitcoin transcends the internet and the material world. Thanks to the many developmental efforts, the access keys to the coins can be stored on physical devices that can even be traded between owners without requiring internet access. The cryptocurrency was born on the internet, yet users still find ways of transferring it offline to increase their transaction privacy and convenience.
Also, Bitcoin is designed to prevent unwanted inflation and double-spends. In the absence of a central authority to oversee all transactions and act as a political actor which decides who is honest and who isn’t, the system relies on a network of equal nodes that communicate to find truth.
Just like Porygon can’t be replicated, a bitcoin can’t be copied and pasted across the network or used for multiple payments from the same user to cheat the entire system.
3. Bitcoin is a power-hungry store of value like Snorlax
In Snorlax’s trophy description from the game Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube, it is said that he must eat 888 pounds of food every day to function. If he doesn’t, he gets grumpy. Yet in the video game’s sequel for the 3DS and WiiU, the required amount of food gets bumped to “more than 900 lbs” per day.
In exchange for this food, Snorlax becomes robust and intimidating to attack. When faced with such a gigantic organism, even the boldest of Pokemon masters decide to stay away and let the creature be. Consequently, the Snorlax can afford to relax and sleep thanks to its imposing size and yet-to-be-tested strength.
Similarly, Bitcoin requires an increasing amount of processing power (hash rate) to remain secure and keep attackers away. It’s designed to be much more profitable to join for mining than to attack. As of April 2020, one hour of double-spending the latest transactions costs more than half a million dollars – and there is more money to be made from becoming an honest miner than from attempting to compromise the system for a while.
Thanks to Bitcoin’s power-hungry nature, the network is much more secure. Consequently, users can store their savings on the blockchain and sleep just like Snorlax knowing that reverting any transaction after 6 network confirmations is just not financially worth it.
4. Bitcoin is a game for whales like Wailord
According to Bulbapedia, Wailord is a Pokemon which makes a huge splash whenever it jumps out of the water. It creates shockwaves whenever it surfaces, and then dives 10.000 feet in one breath. The Wailord is a tribal creature which establishes small communities inside pods.
Similarly, Bitcoin whales make a gigantic and noticeable impact whenever they surface. They are also mysterious and hide from plain sight to better protect themselves through anonymity. Some Bitcoin whales are an illusion, though: exchange accounts consist of funds from thousands of users. Therefore, some of these whales actually consist of medium-sized fish coming together in one place.
But soon enough even somebody who owns 1 BTC will become a whale. If 50.000 BTC could be bought for $50.000 in February 2011 when bitcoins were only $1 a piece, then the same amount of USD can buy 6.66 BTC in mid-April 2020. Give it a few years and the distribution of bitcoin will get more equal, as the demand grows and more people buy their first amounts.
5. Bitcoin is an organism undergoing ossification, just like Cubone
Before it evolves into the bigger, stronger, and bonier Marowak, the Cubone must strengthen his own bones. Also, the bone-throwing skills are also constant subject to improvement in order to adapt to a harsh and sometimes hostile environment.
Likewise, Bitcoin is going through ossification at the base layer. This means that it’s learning to get stronger with its own existing weapons. For the sake of security and monetary predictability, it will not undergo major and disruptive changes. And the more it stays the same and resists attacks, the stronger it gets by adding more layers on top of the main chain.
6. Bitcoin is like Pikachu: the original mascot of the whole industry it spawned
Ask the average person about Pokemon. Which creature do you think is going to come to their mind? Well, it’s very likely that it’s going to be Pikachu – the most popular of all pocket monsters and the bona fide mascot of the Pokemon video games, anime, manga, and merchandise.
There’s a reason why Nintendo has agreed to license this character for the live action-animation combo hit “Detective Pikachu“. The name sells, and it’s likely that there are lots of people who can recognize Pikachu but have no idea about the Pokemon series.
Likewise, Bitcoin is the original and most robust cryptocurrency. Unfortunately, other projects that compare themselves to BTC or claim to be improvements of BTC are mostly detrimental to the OG. Everyone knows about Bitcoin, so they’ll associate every invention from the “blockchain industry” with the king.
Beware though: unless it’s Bitcoin (the Pikachu of crypto), it’s a scam that won’t be around for too long and will take your money making ridiculous claims. For reference, check out Michael Goldstein’s “Everyone’s A Scammer“.
7. Bitcoin is a resilient honey badger like Linoone
According to Bulbapedia, Galar Linoones are known to be rash and fearless. They are rather small, but tend to take on larger creatures and show incredible resilience. The Pokemon is also capable of running fast and delivering devastating headbutts.
Likewise, Bitcoin often gets compared with a honey badger. It’s because of its incredible ability to withstand attacks from bigger organisms and strike back with unexpected strength. Honey badgers eat snakes and fearlessly bust bee hives. Bitcoin takes on banks, investment funds, and credit card companies. The two of them are a match made in heaven.
And since Linoone is the honey badger of Pokemon, then Bitcoin is also a Linoone by association. The Galar type, that is.
8. Bitcoin is a slowly-developing organism… like a Slowpoke?
Alright, this is the worst of comparisons in this article. Because in reality, Bitcoin is not slow and Slowpoke actually is. But “Bitcoin in 10 Pokemon” wouldn’t have sounded so great because it could be confused with a BuzzFeed article. You know this is so much better.
But to outside observers, it seems like Bitcoin is never changing and doesn’t get any real development. Which is both false and true: false because there’s a lot going on, and true because the final stage of reviewing and testing is so rigorous that it may take years for a line of code to get added to the main client.
Yet for Bitcoin this is a feature, not a Slowpoke: by the time any improvement is made, every participant to the network gets to learn about the proposal and voice contrarian opinions.
So for the sake of finding a Pokemon justification, let’s say that Bitcoin is also like a Psyduck: it gives you a headache when you analyze it, but eventually makes a lot of sense.
9. Like Misdreavous, Bitcoin is a ghostly entity that governments can’t touch
Misdreavous is a ghost type Pokemon which feeds on other people’s fear and has an unusual shape. It doesn’t have any limbs and looks strange to anyone who isn’t familiarized with its likeliness. Most importantly, it is hard to touch thanks to its abilities to levitate and disappear.
For governments and banks, Bitcoin is just like Misdreavous. They have never seen anything like it, so they try to impose rules that they know that work on creatures that walk on their legs. Yet Bitcoin floats above all these control freaks and most likely laughs.
The Misdreavous of currencies is like a gigantic brain which keeps tabs on anyone in the most transparent way possible.
With its secondary layer Lightning and sidechain Liquid, Bitcoin can also become invisible from the eyes of the regular beholder. And it takes a special kind of goggles and an amazing concentration power to keep up with this ghost.
10. Bitcoin is definitely Mewtwo
Bulbapedia says that Mewtwo is a Pokemon created by science, while the official Pokedex refers to it as being the result of genetic manipulation. It is also said that the scientists who engineered Mewtwo forgot to give it a compassionate heart – and this state of neutral nihilism is also similar to the Bitcoin network (honey badger don’t care, remember?).
Mewtwo is also depicted as having incredible psychic powers – in the series, it’s capable of smashing entire buildings and objects with the power of thoughts. So it’s better to not mess with such a majestic and powerful creature.
Likewise, Bitcoin is engineered to include some of the greatest and most ambitious ideas in computer science, economics, and cryptography. It’s an almighty mutant that can single-handedly destroy institutions (though the buildings remain, there is no physical damage being done here).
Bitcoin must have been engineered (or at least inspired) by the cypherpunks. And these brilliant and ambitious cryptographers are pretty much like the scientists who created a majestic machine like Mewtwo. Bitcoin is unlike anything else you’ve seen before and just as rare as the engineered Pokemon.
11. Bitcoin is just a toxic community of Koffings
If you spend more than 30 minutes among bitcoiners, you will notice that they are smart, but brutally honest. They can’t help themselves when it comes to speaking their minds on something they don’t like or think is fraudulent (“a scam”). Thanks to this attitude, their haters have given them the “toxic” label.
Which Pokemon is known for its toxicity? Well, that’s Koffing. According to Bulbapedia, a nervous or upset Koffing creates a very toxic gas and releases it through the holes in its body. Likewise, you don’t really want to debate a Bitcoin maximalist (someone who thinks that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency project that should exist and wants it to take over every other form of money).
But if you spend a little time next to a Bitcoin maximalist or Koffing, you’ll realize that they’re not that bad and have their friendly moments too.
Can you think of another Pokemon that can describe Bitcoin? Well, why don’t you write about it in the comments?
Also, share this article with a Pokemon fan who doesn’t understand Bitcoin yet. Creating this type of crossover can be quite educational and beneficial for both of the mixed universes.
Liked this article? Send a BTC donation so I can buy “Pokemon Sword and Shield” on the Nintendo Switch!
And if you can’t donate, then you can at least add me in Pokemon Go so we can exchange gifts and maybe trade Pokemon in the future. My trainer code is 8311 5245 9354.
All images belong to Nintendo, Gamefreak, and The Pokemon Company.