The wise Greek philosopher Theophrastus once wrote, “Time is the most valuable thing a person can spend.” Every human being has a finite amount of time to spend however they wish. Some people jump off the faces of cliffs to fill their limited time with the rush of adrenaline, while others spend hours a day watching someone else play video games. But there is a community of people on the internet than spend a vast amount of time participating in one of the most confounding hobbies: hunting Shiny Pokemon.
The amount of time people spend enjoying Pokemon content on a daily basis is incomprehensible, and a large portion of that time is made up of people either hunting Shiny Pokémon or watching someone else hunt Shinies. While this subculture of hunters has rapidly grown over the past few years, a lot of Pokemon fans are asking why people would spend so much time hunting Shiny Pokémon. We’ve interviewed three notable Pokemon content creators regarding why they hunt for Shiny Pokemon: Lewis “LewTwo,” Matt “AbsolBlogsPokemon” Brandl, and Dallas “TheSupremeRk9s” MacDermant.
What is a Shiny Pokemon?
Before we get into why people spend their time hunting for Shinies, it’s important to understand what a Shiny Pokemon is. Shinies by definition are Pokemon that look and behave the same as a normal Pokemon, but they are a different color. Shiny Pokemon do not have boosted stats, they can’t learn special moves, and they aren’t any more powerful than their normally colored counterparts. Regardless, these color variants are seen as rare and valuable creatures.
Part of a Shiny Pokemon’s worth comes from the luck involved in finding them. In Generations 2 through 5, the odds of finding a wild Shiny are 1/8192. From Generation 6 onward, the odds were increased to 1/4096. There are various methods, as well as the Shiny Charm, that helps increase the odds further, but it doesn’t change the fact that finding a Shiny is a roll of the dice on every encounter. Even with odds as low as 1/300, it can take trainers weeks, months, or even years to find their target Shiny.
With so much time spent searching for different colored digital creatures, one might assume that they hold inherent value.
Do Shiny Pokemon Have Real Value?
The value of a Shiny Pokemon is fairly subjective and really boils down to how much a person values their time. If you search for “Shiny Pokemon” on eBay, you’ll find hundreds of listings. However, that doesn’t mean a Shiny Charizard has an inherent value of $1.95 U.S. plus tax.
LewTwo is a Pokemon historian based out of the U.K. who creates in-depth video essays covering a wide range of topics for his 8.2k subscribers. If you’re interested in the history of Shiny Pokemon, I recommend you watch his video titled “Why Are Shiny Pokemon so Weird?”. Lewis believes that Shiny Pokemon DO have an inherent value because some Shinies are harder to obtain than others.
“It’s your choice whether you care about that or not," Lewis said. "People can invest in the inherent value of a Shiny as much as they want, but it doesn’t really make a difference. They do technically have an inherent value because there are different rarities, but I think the value that you hold for that unique experience is more important.” He also stated that trainers value different Shinies based on personal preference and the amount of time spent hunting.
Matthew Brandl, aka AbsolBlogsPokemon, is a YouTuber (108k subs) and Twitch streamer who spends most of his time in Pokemon games hunting Shinies. Brandl agrees with the sentiment that a Shiny's value is based on one's personal experience.
“It sounds weird to say when you’re doing the same thing thousands upon thousands of times, but it really is more about the journey than it is the destination," he said. However, he also believes that Shiny Pokemon have never had an inherent value. “That’s something that a lot of people get hung up on. They worry whether Shiny Pokemon are getting devalued.”
MacDermant’s thoughts are closer to Brandl’s, but his opinions are accompanied by a brutal backstory. Going by TheSupremeRk9s on YouTube (192k subs) and Twitch, Dallas MacDermant has experience devastatingly long hunts on more than one occasion. One of his latest hunts took nine months to complete due to the abysmal luck he was dealt while hunting for all three Regis in Pokemon Platinum. The entire quest took 115,000 encounters, with Registeel alone being a whopping 71,000 of them. And even with that much time spent, MacDermant stated, “I really REALLY don’t believe Shinies hold inherent value. A hacked Shiny Registeel is indistinguishable from the one I spent months hunting down — the difference is my personal ties! The memories I make along the way and the work I put into my hunts is what gives the shiny its value.”
Why They Shiny Hunt
If a Shiny Pokemon doesn’t hold an inherent value despite some taking months to find, why hunt in the first place? The act of hunting is mundane in and of itself, and you can’t sell the product once it's captured. So, why “waste” time chasing different colored pixels?
Well, in talking with the three seasoned hunters, one commonality was discovered that might seem puzzling to outsiders. Hunting Shiny Pokemon is rarely about focusing on the task at hand. Lewis and Brandl both stated that Shiny Hunting is something they do passively while doing something else. Whether that be hanging with friends, watching YouTube videos, or going on a long walk. MacDermant and Brandl stream some of their hunts to their communities and encourage viewers to hunt along with them. It may not be the act of hunting that gets them hooked, but it's the journey they take while hunting.
MacDermant has been hunting for nearly 11 years starting with the Gen 4 titles. He hunts almost daily and can be found broadcasting his hunts on Twitch. That’s a long time to pursue any hobby, let alone one as tedious and volatile as Shiny Hunting. He warns that the pastime might not be for everyone, and it can have negative effects on one’s mental health if they focus too much on the Shiny at the end of the tunnel.
“So many friends of mine over the years have fallen victim to burnout, and the slippery slope of a hobby, like shiny hunting, transforming into more of a chore," MacDermant said. "It’s important to make sure you're hunting for the right reasons — I find myself asking in my head, ‘Do I actually want to hunt today? Am I truly enjoying myself? Do I need a break?’”
We’ve talked about the “experience” that comes with Shiny hunting, and you're probably wondering what that experience is. Well, I can’t tell you that because everyone’s Shiny Hunting experience is different. MacDermant has turned his hunts into an art form by putting together creative cosplays to fit his current hunt.
“I think it's very important to come into your own and find what ways shiny hunting will be most rewarding for you, whether that be hunting full odds in costumes or simply using raised rates (method hunts) to create a shiny dream team you've always wanted to use," he said. Every hunt is fulfilling in its own way once hunters find what works for them.
“I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve made in my entire life through Shiny Hunting, and I don’t ever see myself stopping." —Matt “AbsolBlogsPokemon” Brandl
Others hunt for the thrill and unique experience of finding a Shiny Pokemon, but do so without getting that dangerous tunnel vision.
"Finding a Shiny has always been shocking and memorable," Brandl said. "I was really interested in Shiny Pokemon from a young age, but I just thought I would never find them. But the moment that I actually found one, years later… the feeling that I felt in that moment was unlike anything else I had ever experienced.” And this feeling is what the majority of Shiny hunters are chasing: The euphoric moment when the Shiny sparkles appear and a rush of adrenaline courses through their veins. But when there are weeks or months with no Shinies, something else has to fill that void.
What’s kept Brandl going over the years is to never strictly be Shiny hunting. If you tune into his streams, you might be surprised to see that his Shiny hunt is shoved in a corner and the majority of the screen is occupied by a sandwich tier list. Not everyone has a following they can stream to, but Brandl also hunts with his friends on Skype or Discord. His videos often feature him hunting while taking walks or during “Anime Nights."
“I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve made in my entire life through Shiny Hunting, and I don’t ever see myself stopping," he said. "It’s become an extra thing I can do at any time and I get to go on whatever journey the hunt gives me.”
“Meeting the whole super supportive community behind Shiny hunting and celebrating when people actually find Shinies, it starts to make sense. Every hunt is its own journey, and you have no idea where it’s going to take you. The excitement never gets old.” —Matt “AbsolBlogsPokemon” Brandl
Or, you could be a hunter like Lewis who enjoys hunting for the sake of finding a Shiny you can’t find anywhere else. Each of Lewis’ hunts is driven by the unique experiences that come with them. Shiny hunting boils down to finding a different-colored Pokemon, but the way in which it is obtained can make hunts far more enjoyable.
"Some Shinies I try to find in the most tedious way possible," Lewis said. "Some Shinies I only try to get in the wild.” One notable hunt of Lewis’ is the Shiny Charizard he found in Pokemon Let’s GO. This is the only game where you can find a Charizard in the wild, and so it’s the only way to find that Shiny in the wild.
It’s important to note that Lewis’ following is much smaller than Brandl's or MacDermant’s, and he doesn’t often stream his hunts. But he doesn’t hunt for others to see or because he has to find a Shiny.
“It’s the unique experience of finding a Pokemon that makes the hunt worth it," Lewis said. "People can tend to think your Shinies are worthless if you get them in Pokemon GO, but the circumstances that I got it were special to me. I think the experience you have with a Shiny Pokemon is probably more important than the destination."
Why You Should Shiny Hunt
If you’re one of the many Pokemon fans that are contemplating starting their first hunt but don’t know if you’ll like hunting, here’s a bit of encouragement from those who have been hunting for a large portion of their Pokemon careers.
With a limited amount of time on our mortal clocks, some people feel that Shiny hunting is an utter waste of time. And one of our hunters doesn’t disagree.
“To those who think Shiny Hunting is a waste of time, I say ‘you’re right,'" Lewis said. "But Shiny hunting is just one part of these games. You’re correct in saying it’s a waste of time, but it’s how I choose to spend it.” Unless it’s your job, the end goal of hunting Shiny Pokemon is self-gratification. Shiny hunting is a waste of time, but so are a lot of other hobbies people partake in every day.
Some people (and this might be you) don’t understand why people would want to spend days, weeks, or years hunting for a Shiny, and you’re not alone. Brandl has been hunting for years now, but before the hunting began, he was also a skeptic.
“I thought I would never see myself putting that much time in just to find a Shiny Pokemon,” Brandl stated. It wasn’t until after he gave Shiny hunting a genuine chance that he was able to understand why people dedicated so much time to it. “Meeting the whole super supportive community behind Shiny hunting and celebrating when people actually find Shinies, it starts to make sense. Every hunt is its own journey, and you have no idea where it’s going to take you. The excitement never gets old.”
In talking with Brandl, we decided that Shiny Pokemon are like time capsules. Each one holds a different story that transports players back to when the Shiny was found. Brandl said it best: “A hunt is really the summation of what’s happening around you more so than what’s happening in the game.”
Even still, MacDermant understands that Shiny hunting isn’t going to be for everyone. Some people don’t have the patience to go the distance of finding a Shiny or are afraid of committing that much time to a hobby. But his statement to those whose interests are piqued is reassuring.
“I think shiny hunting is a pastime everyone could enjoy if they tried it, but not everyone can stick with it long enough to find out. There is so much time and dedication that comes with it, that sometimes the fear of a hunt taking too long outweighs the desire for a Shiny, and that’s okay! Shiny Hunting was always more of an ‘if you know, you know' kind of deal," MacDermant said. "Those of us that hunt and have found Shinies know why we do it, and maybe from the outside looking in it seems pointless, but when I realize you could say the same about most things in life, other people’s opinions about how I choose to enjoy my time suddenly stops mattering so much.”
In short, how much a person enjoys Shiny Hunting is solely dependent on themselves. If you want to dress as a garbage person while hunting Trubbish, go for it. Ride your bike or take a long walk while Masuda Method hatching. Play Pokemon GO in the pouring down rain. There's no right or wrong way to hunt Shiny Pokemon as long as you're enjoying the journey.
Do you hunt for Shiny Pokemon? Which one means the most to you? Let us know in the comments below.