Gotta catch and keep 'em all: A look at Pokemon's enduring legacy

Pokemon, the small, adorable creatures with special fighting abilities  have been around for more than two decades, and they're as popular as ever, mainly due to families sharing the legacy

Annual Pokemon world championships

More than 7,500 people from 49 different countries are expected to attend the annual Pokemon World Championships in Washington this weekend. On Friday, as the event kicked off, most of the attendees appeared to be in their twenties or older.


Pokemon fan since childhood

"I'm 24, but I know I look young," joked Amanda Gunkle, who was decked head-to-toe in the gear of Pikachu, the iconic yellow Pokemon.

She came in from Pittsburg with her twin brother to watch the tournament.

"I've been a fan (of Pokemon) since my early childhood," she said.


Pokemon appeals to kids

It's clear why Pokemon appeal to younger children. But for many of the older fans, Pokemon simultaneously represent nostalgia and novelty.

"We're definitely seeing some intergenerational fans," said Elvin Gee, a spokesman for the Pokemon Company, who was a big fan of Pokemon himself growing up.

"It's amazing to see parents pass on their cards or pass on their video games to their children," he said.


Pokemon franchise

The Pokemon franchise launched in Japan in 1996 but didn’t take off in the United States until the early 2000s.

The brand, which is currently estimated to be the highest-grossing media franchise ever, produces video games released in pairs every one to two years, alongside a new batch of Pokemon species.

It also makes trading cards that players use to battle each other, an animated television series and several movies.


Pokemon Go

The franchise's popularity is also due to the recent success of smartphone app Pokemon Go, a game that lets players walking the real world hunt virtual Pokemon, as well as the film "Detective Pikachu," which opened in May and has made more than $430 million worldwide.

"There's something for everyone," Gee said.


Prize money

The Championships prize money — which runs up to $25,000 for the card game tournament — is mainly offered in the form of scholarships or travel certificates, particularly for players under 18 years old.

The goal is to encourage education and strong principles among the participants, many of whom are minors.

"It's about sportsmanship, it's about great characters, it's about a great game," said Gee."