Ever since “Pokemon Go” launched, players have been staunchly declaring their loyalties to their pick of the three teams you can join once you reach a high enough Trainer level — even though we haven’t actually known exactly what the “Pokemon Go” team leaders look like. But hey, guess what? The mystery has finally been solved! The design of each of the leaders for Team Valor, Team Mystic, and Team Instinct were revealed for the first time at the end of Sunday’s “Pokemon Go” panel at San Diego Comic-Con and subsequently tweeted out from the official “Pokemon Go” Twitter account. And you know what? they’re pretty dang cool. I mean, yes, it was kind of a given that they’d be cool… but you guys? They’re really, really cool. Especially Blanche’s trench coat. Heck and yes.
For the uninitiated, here’s the deal: Once your “Pokemon Go” Trainer reaches level five — which you do by amassing XP, or Experience Points — two new features of the game open up to players: You can join a team, and you can fight in gyms. Up until now, when you’ve been presented with your team choices, you were told a little bit about each one — Team Valor values fierceness in battle, Team Mystic takes an analytical approach to studying Pokemon, and Team Instinct runs by, well, instinct — and introduced to the team leaders… sort of: Candela, who leads up Team Valor, Blanche, head of Team Mystic, and Spark, who runs Team Instinct, appeared only in silhouette. They remained faceless and sans detail, with only their basic outlines and an association with their team’s color (red for Valor, blue for Mystic, and yellow for Instinct) to guide us in our choice.
According to Wired, Niantic CEO John Hanke “joked” during the SDCC panel that the leaders appeared in silhouette because “they hadn’t finished every aspect of the game by launch day.” I’m unclear about whether that’s actually the case — the word “joked” is throwing me a little — but in any event, Candela, Blanche, and Spark have finally been revealed in all their glory:
As I noted once before, I’m thrilled that two of the three team leaders are women; furthermore, now that we know what they all look like, I’m also extremely pleased about the fact that they’re not all white. Admittedly the skin tone options for the Trainer avatars in “Pokemon Go” still leave rather much to be desired — not dissimilar to, say, a lot of makeup lines, many players have commented that the darkest options are still disappointingly light — but it’s worth noting not only that the teams feature women prominently in leadership positions, but also that they feature a woman of color prominently in a leadership position. Again, there’s still a lot of work to do — but it’s a start. Diversity matters, even in things that seem kind of trivial. Diversity always matters.
The “Pokemon Go” panel also teased a number of updates to the app we’ll hopefully see in the future; indeed, according to Kotaku, the game is currently at about 10 percent of what Niantic wants it to be. Possible new features include the team leaders interacting with players, the addition of Pokemon Centers, and the gyms becoming a little more interesting (although exactly how this will happen wasn’t specified). Admittedly I’m most interested in seeing what they do with the teams — as of right now, your gameplay doesn’t change at all based on which team you choose — but either way, there’s plenty of room for the app to grow. And goodness knows there’s demand for it!