Cryptozoology and Nintendo
There’s something of the Pokémon about Cryptomundo.com.
As American Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman’s website its remit is, as I understand it, to link to and discuss news stories and evidence of new species as and when it’s reported or discovered.
This means that posts range in content from the discovery of a new beetle in the Amazon rainforest through the various ongoing sightings of big cats in unlikely places all the way up (and possibly off) the scale to youtube video links of Bigfoot sightings and essays about whether US bridge collapses have anything to do with the ‘Mothman’.
This mixture of content ensnares the reader by effectively holding the plausible and the mostly implausible in delicate tension – acceptable because both the announcement of the discovery of a new type of fish and a story of a boy being carried off by a giant bird falls under the same generic banner: cryptozoology.
In every post there’s a sense of excitement that must mirror something of what the great explorers felt 400 years ago when cataloguing the new flora and fauna discovered on their pioneering travels.
The wonder of discovery is a rare thing in these days of google maps’ near comprehensive satellite imaging but still, despite our current ability to see almost everything in the world with a macro lens, any biologist would happily admit that we miss an awful lot on the micro level. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that there’s a long way to go before we’ve discovered every species this world has to offer.
Of course, what makes Cryptomundo compelling reading is the hope that we are on the verge of discovering mythical creatures at the bottom of our lakes and tops of our mountains – the types of mammals and sea serpents our legends have always promoted.
Admitting to holding out hope of discovering a Yeti or a Loch Ness Monster would be embarrassing and childish to a typical logical, scientific adult western mind and yet, when set alongside bona fide new discoveries of fish and millipedes (as Cryptomundo does so skilfully), these fantasies seem somehow less ridiculous.
It’s a tenuous link but I was thinking that many of the feelings and emotions Cryptomundo elicits in its readers, Nintendo’s handheld phenomenon Pokémon has managed to tap into. There’s an innate desire in man to discover, chart and catalogue everything around him; a hunger to uncover, understand and become keepers of knowledge that drives us to become scientists, astronomers and backpackers.
Pokémon places its young protagonist into the middle of a world populated by all manner of weird and wonderful creatures. It’s your job to discover them, catalogue them (in the Pokédex), capture them and, as is the inevitable next step in man’s conquest of his environment, train them, dominate them and then use them as a tools to exert strength and control over rivals.
It’s a mechanic that has been used to astoundingly successful effect by Pokémon but few other videogames have gone the same explicit route. Nevertheless, there’s a lot more to discover in that direction I think.