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National Pokémon Event Exits Indiana After Passage of Anti-Gay Law, Returns to Columbus

Walker Evans Walker Evans National Pokémon Event Exits Indiana After Passage of Anti-Gay Law, Returns to Columbus
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Do you want to be the very best? Like no one ever was?

Well, you’ll have your chance from July 1st through the 3rd when the 2016 US National Pokémon Championship lands at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The event will feature both the Pokémon collectable card game as well as video game tournament action. New this year will be Pokkén Tournament competitions, centered around the new fighting game released in Japanese arcades in 2015 and launching on the WiiU in March.

2016 marks a big year for Pikachu and crew, which debuted to the world as Game Boy release in Japan in 1996 (the game didn’t hit US shelves until 1998). Twenty years later, a generation of gamers have grown up with the evolution (pun intended) of the franchise, which spans across feature films, a long-running tv series, toys and collectables, and of course, a plethora of Nintendo role-playing games and spin-off titles.

The US National Championships have been held in Indianapolis for the past six years, after moving away from Columbus following a ticketing snafu that involved the Origins Game Fair in 2008. Some event attendees have speculated that the decision to move away from Indianapolis and back to Columbus may have been influenced by Indiana’s passage of the anti-gay “Religious Freedom” bill in 2015.

“This is super speculative, but I’ve heard that everyone wanted to get out last year after the passing of the new laws,” said Columbus-based Pokémon tournament competitor Nathan Burkhart. “There have been some players upset about the move, but everything has been kind of superficial. The general consensus has been positive.”

A post published by Mike Fatum at AceofGeeks.net on March 31, 2015 confirmed the cause for concern. Fatum explained that the new state law could cause problems for event attendees who may be refused hotel accommodations, restaurant service and travel accommodations based upon the ability to legally discriminate against others in Indiana.

“The idea of the Pokémon National Championships may seem like a silly thing to be worried about to non-Pokémon fans — however it is just one of many events held in Indiana that will be affected by Senate Bill 101,” stated Fatum. “Even people that do not live in Indiana will be affected by the law whenever they travel to or through Indiana for events, conventions, tournaments, and vacations. The Pokémon franchise is one facet of nerd and geek culture, and our history is a tumultuous one full of people who are disenfranchised and discriminated against at every turn. It is because of this that we must always take a stand against discrimination, and we must always show our stance strongly in the face of adversity.”

The event is expected to draw approximately 1,000 competitors to Columbus. Those who qualify during the US Championships will move on to the World Championships that take place in August in San Francisco.

For more information, visit www.pokemon.com.

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