Pokécharms at 20: Birthday Messages
To celebrate today, we’ve asked some staff and regular members to share some thoughts and words about their own time with us over the years. We’ve collected a number of them below – if you have anything you’d like to add yourself, please feel free to join us on Discord or in the Forums to do so!
Happy 20 Years, Pokécharms
When I think of Pokécharms, I think of friendship and found family. It was late 2007 when I found myself a bit lonely in my last year of high school, all my friends having graduated the year before. I had tried out a few different roleplaying forums, and one day, I noticed someone had a trainer card in their signature. Curious, I soon found myself on the Pokécharms website examining the forums, wanting to participate, and then finding the IRC chat at the time. I started off as a bit of a newbie, but over time I adjusted to talking to those new strangers on the internet.
It has been a little over 15 years since that point in time. Today, I may not participate as much on the forum, but the IRC has gone strong in other forms – whether more personally on Skype or with the new introduction of Discord. Roleplaying has turned from forum-based to chat-based and, in some cases, whole tabletop roleplaying games. I have had the privilege and pleasure of running multiple Dungeons and Dragons games for the Charms regulars, and some of them have run games of their own with me as a player. Games like these help to bring us closer together and remind me of our friendship.
Together, we have forged through our lives and overcome many different struggles. Some Charmsians were young teens like myself, figuring themselves out and making mistakes on the way. Others were adults who helped guide us to our new beginnings in life. I am honoured to call some of them my close friends and have even had the pleasure of meeting some of them in person. Whether in my home country of Canada or on my visits to England, I find myself looking fondly at the memories that we have created together over the years. Here’s to many more in the future.
Sincerely and wholeheartedly,
Sara, AKA Dwayna DragonFire
As I sit in my basement room in Mid-March whilst snow, rather unseasonably, continues to pile up outside, and the power threatens to go out for a second time at any moment, I’m left pondering just what I should write regarding the upcoming Charms Day.
For a while now, the prevailing suggestion was to write nothing at all and just let the day come and go like usual, with perhaps a brief comment somewhere in acknowledgement. After all, I haven’t really been in the greatest of writing moods lately, and my eternally fatigued brain can barely get a few sentences out of dubious quality, to say nothing of vast paragraphs full of thoroughly engaging text. Yet, all the same, this is the 20th anniversary of the site I’ve been a part of in some small way for well over a decade. It only seems prudent that I force my sluggish mind out of its rut for a brief duration to say a few words. As such, that is exactly what I am doing at this very moment. Behold, a slapdash and slipshod tribute…
There is plenty I would rather wish to forget about my first few years of navigating the online wilderness in the late 2000s and early 10s. As anti-social as I currently am, I was a complete and utter wreck back then, and the idea of socializing online somehow managed to terrify me even more than the usual in-person exchanges I’d at least grown somewhat familiar with by that point… I mean, I was a teenager on the cusp of adulthood, and I had to figure that out by then. At least if I said something stupid in person, I could easily recover with some self-deprecating remark for levity. Still, for some reason, the idea of being funny via text alone seemed utterly foreign, which meant I lacked the one trick I felt I had up my communicative sleeve.
At some point in that aforementioned era, I got into the concept of forum RPing. At the time, I hadn’t really seen myself as anything special in the literary department (Frankly, I still don’t think I’ve got much going for me in that regard, but that’s for another discussion), and yet, all the same, I found myself getting caught up in the idea of having a character or two of my own creation getting involved in a larger story being told by a collective group online. Something was exciting about knowing I had a part to play in such a scenario that involved the direct input of others in a medium that allowed more freedom than an MMO could provide, which to me, especially at the time, was a fine trade-off for a lack of any visuals, graphics or sounds. Why am I droning on about this stage of my life, you might ask? Well, for all intents and purposes, this initial interest in RPing eventually led me to find a little site called Pokecharms.
It would be on Pokecharms where I’d rekindle my earlier interest in creative writing as a whole; It was on Pokecharms where I’d really start to open my mind beyond the somewhat contained bubble in which I’d spent most of my life; It was Pokecharms that introduced me to the excitingly chaotic world of tabletop gaming; It was on Pokecharms where I’d make some longstanding friendships that remain as strong as ever to this day; Throughout several moves, including a residential stint on the other side of the world, one consistent that remained was this site, its forum and above all else the people involved. All through the beginnings of my adulthood up to this point, the people I’ve met on Pokecharms have always been there in some form or another.
We’ve run the gamut of emotions, laughter, anger, sadness, excitement, happiness, and various forms of love and affection, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of these groups in person, with another visit on the horizon. The fact of the matter is this Pokemon fan site and the people within it have become a major part of my life for over 12 years now. To think that I’ve been around for over half of this site’s existence seems surreal. Honestly, at times it still feels like I only joined a year ago at most, but that’s the funny thing about time, and how it just seems to move along like the inconsiderate jerk it is. Some people have come and gone, others have remained, and I’m just happy that, of the two decades Pokecharms has been around, I’ve been fortunate enough to be there to see a little over half of it.
Perhaps come the 25th or 30th, I’ll have something more creative in mind than this rambling mess of a journal entry, but until those days come around, which I firmly intend to be here to see, of course, this will have to suffice. Thank you, Pokecharms, for welcoming me into your fold. As uncertain as the future is, so long as you guys are around, I’m eager to see what lies ahead. Stay crazy and proud, folks; you’ve more than earned it.
Many years ago, Linkachu decided she wanted to keep an Eevee, and I haven’t been able to escape since. But seriously speaking, my time here has given me irreplaceable relationships, and I look forward to seeing the site stick around for a very long time to come.
I’ve always been here and will likely remain here until the website shuts down. Through it all, I’ve made countless memories and lifelong friendships, and my life has been undeniably better, healthier, and happier just by having Pokécharms and Pokémon as part of it. Happy 20th Charms Day! Here’s to another five years, when I can hopefully write something longer. 8D ~ Linkachu (Katie)
While there’re a lot of people I met here I still miss dearly, it just means the time we spent together as a community was very important to me. Being here really opened the door for what I was capable of creating, and I’m happy I got to share that with many of you.
I realised that if Pokécharms is 20 years old and I joined in 2004, then I must have been here for almost 19 years. On the one hand, this is a terrifying thought. On the other hand, it explains why some of the other Olds here are among my closest friends in the world. Talk to people every day for well over a decade, and that happens. Talking of terrifying, I have photos of DoctorOak and Nemesis when they were both 18. It’s okay, I have been persuaded to bury the pictures under Mt. Coronet.
At this point in time, I have met Pokécharms members in person from 3 different continents and helped with at least one major move. It really is weird the way so many of us turned out to be queer and/or neurodivergent. My favourite Pokémon are still Poochyena and Mightyena, but this place has given me an admiration for Chikorita, Snorlax, and the MIGHTY Dunsparce as well. Dudunsparce might just be the best evolution ever. It’s such a huge troll!
Many happy returns to a site now older than many of its members, and may we all be here for at least another 20 years. (Or until the web evolves into something completely different.)
Hihiii ‘Charms! I love this site so much 💜 I’ve basically grown up on this site and learned so much from the community here. If it hadn’t been for yall, I can genuinely say I wouldn’t be the person (or persons) I am today. This website is my home and my family when I didn’t have a home and needed a new family. I love Pokecharms so much; y’all mean the world to me. Happy 20th from the resident Forever 12 Football!
I have been on Pokécharms since August 2007. To say this community has been important to me is an understatement – the relationships I’ve made here have given me a place to live, the skills I needed to get a job, a wonderful fiancée, and the courage to be myself. I have spent nearly 15 years of my life amongst this crazy lot, and I don’t regret any of it for a second. So much has changed in the world around us – 15 years ago, the first iPhone hadn’t even come out yet! – and ‘Charms has changed so much with it. You will have seen the various iterations of the site’s design throughout its life, and I am proud to have been a small part of that. Building the previous iteration of the Trainer Card Maker taught me the skills I needed to become a professional developer. I have always loved seeing the community’s creativity in our Role Play and Creative Corner (which has not been forgotten 👀 ). Thanks for all the memories – of being crazy and proud, to volt-tackling Fearows and fiteing gem to get bage, of my Nyan Cat new year’s banner, of watching people notice the shiny Pokémon I hid around the website a few times. And, most importantly, to everyone who has been a part of the community now or in the past, thank you for making Pokécharms the wonderful place it is. I may not be as active on the forums anymore, but I’m always around in our Discord – join us and say hello! – and I hope to be part of the furniture for many more years yet!
So wow… this little corner of the internet is going to be graduating from University pretty soon… and getting a job… and then it’ll be off making its own websites… they grow up so fast. So wow, it’s been more than half a lifetime ago.
I was browsing the internet for a pokemon outlet because everyone else at my school was too cool to rummage through the tall grass to catch critters to fight each other. It wasn’t a soft entrance, as I was one of many pre-teens who were self-important and validation-seeking.
But Charms made me grow from that and in other ways besides. I found a community that loved pokemon to its core, bringing out art and descriptions of these critters that I might never have truly appreciated otherwise, elevating my love for the franchise. I found people that liked to write stories together in group-based role play that was fun to write and was a precursor for my RPG interests today.
Despite being thousands of miles away, I found friends I could hang out with on my computer, with just text and voice, ensuring I would be well prepared for the digital age that would soon dawn on us. It’s no exaggeration that my teenage drama period was best spent hanging out with you guys. And although my presence nowadays is limited to occasional quips and waves. I’m certainly still around, and I’m still Crazy and Proud to be a Charmster.
NonAnalogue (AKA: The Blue Avenger)
My relationship with Pokecharms is not unlike that of a boomerang in that I keep disappearing for years at a time, after which I randomly show up, much to everyone else’s surprise. Also, most people don’t know how to throw me correctly. Either way, Charms was a major part of my formative years online, for good and for ill; there are people on this site who I’ve known for longer than my actual real-life wife (who actually exists, I promise, and is not a piece of wood with a face drawn on it).
Every time I show back up at Charms, it feels like I’ve never left, and I’m walking into a building I’ve never seen before. The former is because of my friends, who steadfastly refuse to leave Charms and go outside once in a while (for which I am eternally grateful); the latter is because of the massive upgrades to the site that keep showing up without warning (at least, I didn’t get any warning, which probably has nothing to do with the fact that I keep disappearing). Even with all the changes, Charms never stops feeling at home.
Happy 20th, Pokecharms, and try not to focus on the fact that this site is five years away from being able to rent a car in the United States.
The major problem – one of the major problems, for there are several – with large and aesthetically-pleasing round-number anniversaries is that of expectations. Twenty Years of surviving in the ever-changing hellscape of both the Internet (which is now virtually unrecognisable from how it was at the time we came into being in our current incarnation, and not in a good way) and the physical world (which requires no further elaboration, really) are certainly nothing to sneeze at. One would expect some grandiose, bombastic prose worthy of commemorating the momentous occasion.
… But I seem to have expended all the good material on previous anniversaries, so you’re stuck with this rot instead.
Looking back at those early days of Pokécharms (both as I remember them and through vestiges of posts that still remain in the nethermost depths of the forums) and reflecting on the people we were and the things we did is – quite honestly – awe-inspiring and headache-inducing in equal measures. Where in the name of all of the deities that ever were (and some that were not) did we find all that energy? And where has it all gone, for that matter? I can’t just chalk it down to getting older (as not only I Was Old When Your Stars Were Young™… but I also don’t have any chalk on hand. Rather sub-optimal, really – but them’s, as they say, the breaks). I suppose that over the course of two literal decades of playing my part in keeping this place functioning and occasionally dropping down from the overgrowth to strike the Fear of the Stel into the hearts (and other fragmented anatomical elements) of rule-breakers, life has thrown all of us a variety of curveballs (as it does) that had long-lasting effects on the whole energy thing – and these days I find myself much less active than I used to be – or indeed than I’d like to be. For a blessing, the community has been giving me very little reason to go Full Biometal Armblades mode lately and has also been rather helpful in drawing my attention to any outstanding issues that require addressing without me needing to be on constant alert for shenanigans – and that’s honestly deeply appreciated. Makes the whole experience much better for all of us, I find.
Nevertheless, even though I am not particularly active on the forums these days, Pokécharms remains (as it has since its founding way back in 2003 and – to an extent – even beforehand) a constant presence in my life and some of the people I met here I count among those nearest and dearest to me in this entire thrice-frelled universe (despite their immensely frustrating locations across rather large and quite inconvenient bodies of water). I have them to thank for many experiences that I probably never would have had without them (or, at the very least, that may have been very different without them!) and for a great deal of creative inspiration and collaborations over the years. Even in these uncertain times, where things that previously appeared to be fixed points seem to fall apart at the drop of a hat, and the future feels even more like a vast uncertainty than it ordinarily is… I still find myself having very little doubt that there are plenty more such experiences, inspirations, and collaborations where those came from and that this site will endure (and leave me grasping for new words to write about it) for many more anniversaries to come.
I suppose I’ll wrap this up with some wishes to those of you who frequent our little corner of the Internet. Over our twenty-year-long history, many people have come and gone, and many familiar faces have been replaced with less-familiar ones. As it stands, in the immortal words of one Bilbo Baggins, I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. Nevertheless, I do hope that you continue enjoying your time with us, make meaningful, lasting connections as we have, and continue being Crazy and Proud. I should also like to hope that those of you who drifted away have at least some fond memories of your time with the people you’ve met and us – and that at least some of you who ended up having a close encounter with the business end of my armblades are now in a better, happier and more mature and sensible place in your existence (or, failing that – that in the course of the eff!ing around and finding out that you were prone to, you got what you deserved from life – no more and no less).
And… that’s all there is to it, really. Happy ‘Charms Day, and keep on truckin’ (or in the spirit of the current Pokémon generation, keep on… er, motorcycle-lizardin’, I suppose?)
~ StellarWind Elsydeon
Pokecharms has been around for 20 years now, I have been around for sort-of 15 of those years. I say “sort-of” because I have been largely inactive since Sun/Moon launched, so whether that 7-year period counts as me being around or not is probably questionable.
I first joined ‘Charms in 2008 for the same reason many other people did: the Trainer Card Maker. I also joined because I had just started competitive battling and wanted to meet other players to battle, which in hindsight seemed like a ridiculous reason considering Smogon is, like, right over there. A fun fact that many probably don’t know is that the first Pokemon forum I considered joining was actually Marriland.
Then I found out they had a board on the forum dedicated to Runescape.
Anyway, as time went on, I became a moderator in 2009 and was in charge of the Organized Play board, where we did a lot of online tournaments, as well as a few offline events in Manchester and London in coordination with the PokemonWorld UK community, which like Smogon, had also been Right Over There for all my competitive battling needs had I bothered to actually take more than a glance at the forums I considered joining. At this point, you are probably wondering why I stayed here if it was clear that other communities had more of what I was personally looking for.
Before I go into that, I’m going to explain why my activity within the community faded as suddenly as it did. For all those expecting some spectacular and dramatic story, I’m going to disappoint you by saying that my activity faded simply because my interest in Pokemon as a whole did. My life circumstances changed, I no longer had the time to commit to making teams for tournaments, I no longer had the time to arrange and run Organized Play events, and after Gen VII released for me the weakest main series games of the entire franchise, my time in competitive battling was well and truly ended, and my interest in the franchise hit its lowest point. I moved my focus onto other games, specifically, first-person shooters, which I had spent a lot of time playing before and during my time here, settled on Destiny 2 as the game I wanted to focus my attention on in Pokemon’s place, and ended up becoming far better at that, and other FPS titles, than I ever was at Pokemon.
Seeing the level I had reached at these games compared to Pokemon eventually got me thinking; what if I had just done this for all these years instead? What if I had focused all my efforts right from the beginning on these sorts of games, never treated Pokemon as anything more than a game I played on the side? Would I have achieved the level I am at in these games sooner? Would I have been able to attend tournaments, and achieved greater success in them? Where would my life have gone from there?
I’ve always said “what-if” is a dangerous place for your mind to wander because there is no guarantee that path would have been better for me than the one I ended up taking. In the end, it didn’t take me long to decide that I am glad that I took the path I did, and this is where I answered the question earlier of why I stayed here if what I had initially wanted was elsewhere.
The people I met.
I was a member of other Pokemon boards, some with a greater focus on the areas of the franchise I had more interest in than ‘Charms did, but my involvement on those boards was barely a fraction of my involvement here. I came here looking for something and ended up finding something I was not looking for that would ultimately turn out to be far more valuable. I found many friends I have remained in touch with long after my activity on the forums themselves died, some of whom changed my life significantly. Had I taken that other path, I would never have come here, never met anyone here, and I wouldn’t trade any amount of potential esports glory and fame for them.
Now, this is getting way too sentimental for my tastes, and this is also getting far too wordy, so I will end by saying this: Congratulations to Pokecharms for 20 years, thank you to all the people I met here that I don’t want to see boiled in oil, and for all the people reading this who have no idea who I am, please keep in mind that despite my earlier criticism of Gen VII, you are not wrong or a bad person for liking it, everyone has their likes and dislikes after all…
Yours just happen to be a bit questionable. Antío!