The Spirit of the Game.

by Pikkdogs ~ April 22nd, 2012.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there.  This is Pikkdogs here with an article about the Pokemon document called, “The Spirit of the Game.”  This is a document that is rarely talked about on websites like this, but is supposed to be vital to any Pokemon player.  So I figured we should talk about it and analyze it.  We can talk about what we like about it, and what we don’t.  But first, we must get a news article from Pedro to start things out.  Hey Pedro, what do you have for us today?

Hey Pikkdogs.  Today, CNN is reporting that there is controversy with Sweden’s Minister of Culture.  It seems that she was attending an art exhibit opening and she ate a piece of a cake that was in the form of a stereotypical African figure.  Groups representing African Swedes are calling for the minister to resign after they feel that Africans were portrayed in a racist manner. 

Well this is quite a controversy, who knew there were black people in Sweden?

True, I always imagined that the whole country is full of blue eyed blondes who wear tight T-shirts and frolick in a meadow all day. 

That’s exactly what I imagine too.

The story gets even better.  It seems that the cake was made to bring awareness to female genital mutilation in Africa.  To strike home the point of the piece, the “artist” cut a piece of the African Girl shaped cake from the cake’s genital region and screamed loudly in pain. 

That sounds weird.


I think we should get that image out of our mind and just think about a bunch of Swedish blondes in tight T-shirts frolicking in a meadow.

Sounds good with me.  But, we should get to the article. 


The Spirit of the Game

The Spirit of the Game (TSG) is one of the few documents that makes up official Pokemon TCG policies.  Along with the rule book and compendium, this is your Pokemon bible.  I am not sure of the history about TSG, such as when TSG was adopted, so if someone can fill us in on the historical information I would appreciate that.   

To start us off, here is TSG in its entirety.

  • Fun: The Pokémon TCG is a game, and games are meant to be fun for all parties involved. When a game ceases to be fun, players find other things to do.
  • Fairness: Games cease to be fun when players break the rules to achieve victory. A player should prefer to lose a game than to win by cheating.
  • Honesty: Players of any game should strive to act honestly while playing that game. If a player inadvertently breaks a rule during a game and becomes aware of the error before his or her opponent or a judge, that player should make the opponent and the judge aware of the misplay.
  • Respect: Players, spectators, and staff should be treated with the same respect that players would expect for themselves. Distracting an opponent or a judge to gain advantage shows disrespect to everyone involved in a Pokémon TCG event.
  • Sportsmanship: Winning or losing with grace is vital to the enjoyment of a game. The desire to continue playing a game can be soured by players that berate their opponents after winning or losing a match.
  • Learning: Players should strive to help each other increase their Pokémon TCG play skills. It is not a player’s responsibility to make his or her opponent’s plays for that opponent. However, discussing strategies, offering deck tips, or constructively critiquing game play decisions after the match has been completed helps both participants to become better players.

That is the exact text that is found of Pokemon’s website.  Although very brief and very broad, it does give us some interesting things to talk about.  I will go through each one of TSG’s six principles and give you my opinion on them and how they relate to how the game is actually played.  I will ask you guys to please use the comment section to tell us what you feel about TSG and how you see things happening in real life.  It will be interesting to see if these 6 principles are still important to us today.


TSG starts off with a simple statement.  The TCG is a game, and it is meant to be fun.  It sounds simple enough, games and fun seem to go hand and hand.  So no real problem there.  The second part of this principle says that when the game is not fun, people do other things.  This is really weird to put in here, I don’t really care what people do if they do other things, it just seems like a weird thing to put in here.

Even though the first statement is broad and understood by everyone, it is still very important.  It outlines the fact that the game is supposed to be fun, and that is the first and foremost rule of Pokemon.  If you are making things not fun for your opponent you are going against TSG, and the game itself.

I interpret this rule to mean that if someone plays a deck that is successful but not fun, it is unsportsmanlike.  I know that it sounds weird, but it is based on one of the foremost rules of the game.  I take this to mean that it is against TSG, and the game itself, to play a deck like Durant.  I don’t know if I ever heard anyone called Durant a fun deck.  Most people state that it is not fun, but tedious.  If this is so, Durant (and any deck that people generally do not find fun) does go against TSG and players should not play it.  This is a fairly standard interpretation of a very simple rule, that makes for a very interesting debate.

Since TSG is mandatory (we all signed that we would uphold these principles when we got our POP IDs), technically you should be kicked out of Pokemon for playing decks like Durant, if this strict interpretation is believed.  It all depends on how far you take the first principle.  Even if you don’t take this strict interpretation, it is significant to know that Pokemon is about fun first and foremost,  everything else takes a backseat to fun.


The Fairness principle again brings fun into the equation.  The first part of it states that generally, games aren’t fun when one player cheats and wins.  The second part states that a player should want to lose before they want to win by cheating.

While I don’t want Pokemon telling me what is fun and what is not, this principle seems to state things very simply.  It states that cheating breaks the first principle of fun, therefore cheating is very much frowned upon.  Cheating in itself implies that it breaks the rules, so Pokemon is hitting it home for us that cheating is a good way to break the first principle of the TCG, fun.  It also gets us thinking that we should always have the concept of Fun in our hearts when we are playing the game.

The second part of this principle does not have anything to do with fun.  It implies that we all should have the morality needed to play a game as a civilized adult.  We should not try to win at all costs, instead we should take the rules to heart and live and die by them, not to forsake them for a chance to win.

This principle is very important.  I have seen some people cheat before, and it is not good for the game.  Winning should not consume you so much that you would break the rules of a game.  You should want to win, but you should want to have fun and interact with people more.  TSG spells this out very clearly and well.


The principle of Honesty is closely tied to Fairness and cheating.  When they spell out Honesty, it does not have to do with cheating intentionaly, but unintentionally.  It says that if you break the rules without realizing it, when you do realize it , you need to tell your opponent and a judge.

This principle is all about being………well honest to your opponent and the game as a whole.  Mistakes happen, but you got to call yourself on them when they do.   It is actually a simple rule that is second nature to almost everybody.  You shouldn’t have to really tell people this, it should be done whether it was a rule or not.

Cheating by mistake does happen a lot.  It happened to me at a Cities this season.  I had to put my hand down to help someone get something behind me during a match, and I accidentally picked up my deck by mistake.  Mistakes like these happen and there is not much that can be done.  If it doesn’t effect the outcome of the game, like in my example, warnings are just given (the Pokemon equivalent of a slap on the wrist).  If it does hurt the game a lot, then you will see game losses being handed out, but that is fairly rare.  The most common occurrence now-a-days is when people use Pokegear 3.0 for a long time, and then shout out “N!”,  this sometimes can cause the other player to think you are playing N and shuffle his hand in the deck.  This wouldn’t happen if a player clearly announces his moves during the game, and if the other player pays attention.


haha I noozled you guys again!


The first part of this principle just re-states the Golden Rule, be kind to others as you would have them be to you.  That it is a real simple rule we all learned in Kindergarten and we all should know it by now.  The second part has to do with not distracting the judges or your opponent to gain an advantage.  This can be thought of as cheating and be put into the same category.  I don’t know why they put it with respect, it is just another form of cheating.


The principle is funny because it is just a restatement of the first principle, but includes winning and losing maturely.  It states that winning and losing with dignity are vital to the “fun factor” in the game, and if people become sore losers people will leave the game.

I’m sure we can all think of examples of people breaking this principle.  One profanity laced rant in Toledo comes to my mind.  It is probably the hardest one to uphold for a lot of people, but it is still a basic principle that you should have learned when you were 4.

We all should be adults here and be able to lose without sulking and win without taunting.  Its just a simple principle that everyone should follow, it is not that hard.


This final principle is one of the strangest in this list.  It states that it is your responsibility to help teach other players the game, and help them get better.  It also clearly states that you should go out of your way to help other people, and do everything short of telling your opponent exactly what to do while playing.

I find this principle to be really strange because during a tennis match, you never see Roger Federer telling John Isner that he should work on his backhand.  There is no parallel in sports to this principle, which is very strange.

While I do think that we should become a community and help each other learn the game, I do think that this principle goes a little too far by expecting everybody to help everybody else with their decks.  It isn’t practical or smart for that to happen.  I do try to follow this principle when I play a newcomer to the game, but I think it is a little arrogant to always be telling someone else what to do.  Up to a certain point people need to learn from their own mistakes and figure it out on their own.  It is not my responsibility to help each and every player to get to my skill level.  Make no mistake, I’m not being selfish here, just stating that it is not reasonable for Pokemon to expect us to be that dedicated to a principle.  So, they went just a little overboard in this principle.


I was really surprised when I started analyzing TSG.  I did not expect TSG to contain the things that it did.  It sets up a Pokemon world that is much more informal and fun based than the game actually is.  I think that the real world is more cut throat than TSG outlines. Should we all obey these rules more than we currently do?  I don’t know if we should say that.  Competitive play should be more aggressive than league play, and we need a slightly different attitude for it.  I would say while most Pokemon players do not follow TSG rules exactly, the game is not full of spoiled brats.  Most Pokemon players are nice people that don’t whine and cry when things don’t go there way.  There is no doubt that there are some of these players out there, but you can’t expect everybody to be nice.  It seems like most players are gracious about how they play the game, and that’s really what TSG is all about.  There are some players who do not follow TSG out there, but its not like making TSG more strict will change that.

So what do you guys think after you looked at TSG more closely?  Do you feel that we should change these principles at all?  Do other games have a similar set of principles?  I will be anxious to read your comments in the comment box.

Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of any principle that should be added.  Most things that I can think of are specific rules that need to be enforced on a local level.  TSG seems to be fairly balanced.

Okay, Pedro I am done.  Do you want to close things out for us?

Sure, today we have sad news from the world of entertainment.  Beloved TV host Dick Clark has passed away.  Clark hosted American Bandstand, which was a music show that inspired other shows like “Soul Train” and the UK’s “Top of the Pops.”  Producers of current music shows like American Ido and X-Factor all state that there would be none of those shows without American Bandstand and Dick Clark. 

Which is one bad thing about Dick Clark.

Yes, it seems weird like those producers would try to sully Clark’s name after he did all that.   

You know Pedro, a lot of celebrities and musicians preformed on American Bandstand.  Including people like: “The Polish Prince” Bobby Vinton, Johnny Cash, Run DMC, Richard Simmons, and Cher.

Richard Simmons and Cher are very different people of course.  One is an elaborate diva who is known for wearing dresses and thick makeup…………….and the other is Cher. 

Good one.  Good night everybody.

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